The surge continues and B.C. is beginning a new consistent trend for COVID-19 cases.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said today (Oct. 26) there were 817 new cases of the virus since Friday (Oct. 23), including 317 from Friday to Saturday, marking the first time since January that B.C. recorded more than 300 in a 24-hour span.
In Northern Health, there were 12 new positive tests detected from the weekend, bringing the region's total to 383 since March.
Dr. Henry also placed a new health order specifically for private homes, which is asking residents to now limit guests to no more than the immediate household, plus your 'safe six' bubble.
She adds, though it's not an official order, face-coverings are now expected to be worn in public spaces, primarily indoors, and is now asking businesses to reconsider its safety plan to potentially include a mandatory-mask policy.
"We have seen a notable increase in new cases and transmission of COVID-19 as a direct result of social gatherings in private homes," said Dr. Henry, noting the increase reveals the effects of family gatherings that happened Thanksgiving weekend.
"Too often over the last few weeks we've been hearing stories, where people are trying to put aside the safety plans, that feel it's ok to have a few additional people, or for people to mix and mingle and unfortunately we have seen spread in these environments."
The latest three-day reporting period is as follows:
- 317 = Friday to Saturday
- New daily case-count record
- 293 = Saturday to Sunday
- 207 = Sunday to Monday
Prior to today's update, to which there have now been 13,371 total cases since the first positive test in January, the daily provincial record was set at 274 on Thursday (Oct. 22) and B.C. has counted more than 200 cases each day since Wednesday (Oct. 21).
There are now 2,325 active cases in the province, including 77 people in hospital and 26 of whom in critical care.
Three more people died over the weekend from the virus, all of which occurred in Vancouver Coastal Health, keeping Northern Health's death toll at three.
Henry says the new order means no Halloween parties, larger funerals and burials or Nov. 11 Remembrance Day celebrations.
"It's not lost on us that there are many more celebrations coming up, not least of which is Halloween this weekend. We've said this before, and I have been very clear on this. We need to focus on small groups outside.
"This is not the time for Halloween parties ... that is not what we need. That cannot happen, and now there is an order in place that restricts that."
She acknowledged the new order appears to be the opposite of cultural norms which place value on connection and community, but residents must act differently in the midst of a pandemic.
“Most homes are not large enough to have 50 people, or 30 people, or 20 people. Now that we are moving into the season where we can’t be outside as often as well, we know that risk goes up.”
The new order is similar to the restriction placed on vacation and rental homes during the summer when COVID-19 cases peaked in the province.
She hopes further enforcement won't be needed if British Columbians follow the new rule, but says if people disregard the order, additional measures will be taken.
“The orders are enforceable by bylaw officers, police officers and environmental health officers.”
Northern Health's first and only public COVID-19 exposure was potentially contracted by a passenger(s) that used Prince George Taxi between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Oct. 2 to 3. The alert remains in effect.
Mr. Mikes restaurant location in Prince George also announced on Thursday (Oct. 22) one of its team members had tested positive for the virus.
The establishment says the dates the affected employee last worked are as follows:
- Thursday, Oct. 15 = Noon to 8 p.m.
- Friday, Oct. 16 = Lunch service
- Saturday, Oct. 17 = Lunch service
- Sunday, Oct. 18 = Dinner service
The company says it has been in contact with Northern Health and are following all protocols and precautions for its team and guests.
Seven northern B.C. schools have also been potentially exposed to COVID-19:
- Notre Dame Private School - Dawson Creek - Oct. 13-20, 2020
- Prince George Secondary School (SD57) - Oct. 2, 2020
- Dawson Creek Secondary School - South Peace Campus (SD59) - Sept. 23-25, 2020
- David Hoy Elementary School (SD91) - Sept. 17-18, 2020
- Quesnel Junior Secondary School (SD28) - Sept. 10-11, 15-18, 2020
- Nak’albun Elementary School (Independent) - Sept. 16-18, 2020
- Ecole Frank Ross Elementary School (SD59) - Sept. 10-11, 2020
- with files from Laura Brookes, Castanet