Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

COVID-19: ‘A slow and steady increase’ pushes B.C. into the third wave, top doctor says

Cases have been escalating in recent days

As COVID cases in B.C. begin to rise even as vaccine doses get into arms, the spectre of the third wave is becoming real in the province.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed that as she warned people to stay vigilant.

“We ask about whether we’re in the third wave, it really is,” Henry said. “We’ve come down from the peak of our second wave, but we have levelled out for many weeks now and it’s a slow and steady increase.”

She said that the increase in cases is happening largely in the Lower Mainland. Of the 1,785 cases reported in B.C. over the weekend, 469 were in Vancouver Coastal Health and 1,010 were in Fraser Health. The latter region has seen the bulk of B.C.’s COVID cases.

“This is a concern because… that’s where the highest population density is and this type of an increase can quickly get out of control,” Henry said. “And that is something we don’t want when we’re in this phase of the pandemic.”

B.C. currently has just over 10 per cent of its population vaccinated with the first dose, not nearly enough for herd immunity.

Henry said the escalating cases are connected to two main places: workplaces and homes.

“We know that people are gathering together in indoor spaces,” she said, a behaviour made even more dangerous by variants gaining steam in B.C. There have been 1,240 cases of the U.K. B.1.1.7 variant in B.C. so far.

“We know the B.1.1.7 variant is more transmissible. It’s much easier to spread it with with even minimal contact in indoor settings.”

While little has changed in the way that people should protect themselves from the virus – masks, good ventilation, physical distancing – now there is “even less margin for error.”

Henry said she had sympathy with people who are weary after an entire year of fluctuating COVID restrictions, but not those choosing to flout the rules.

“If you are blatantly disregarding these public health orders there are ramifications for that.”

For the rest, Henry asked people to gather outside only in small groups.

“The only safe place for us to gather, with our small groups, with our friends, with our family, is outside,” she said. It’s been nearly two weeks since B.C. gave the green light to the “trusted 10,” allowing groups of up to 10 family and friends to gather outdoors. That group is to remain the same, and not be constantly changing members.

READ MORE: Is your group of 10 allowed to gather on restaurants patios? Not so fast, Dr. Henry says

For people hoping to have weddings and other events this spring, Henry urged people to push them to summertime.

“This is the time when we need to take those little sacrifices to continue to keep those important workplaces open we can continue to support our children in school.”

READ MORE: Younger people with COVID now requiring longer hospital, ICU stays: Dr. Henry

READ MORE: ‘Jury is still out’ on if people who have had COVID need 2nd vaccine dose: Dr. Henry


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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