British Columbia announces 817 new cases over the weekend

Dr. Bonnie Henry stated that following the record-high new case of COVID-19 announced over the weekend, masks are now an ‘anticipation’ in all public places.

B.C. has put new restrictions on private gatherings in homes after confirming a record high 817 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend and three more deaths — the largest number of new cases in the province in a three-day period.

The new numbers cover a three-day reporting period since Friday, with 317 cases recorded between Friday and Saturday, 293 cases between Saturday and Sunday, and 207 cases between Sunday and Monday.

The province is seeing the result of increased social gatherings over the Thanksgiving weekend and the mounting cases — particularly in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions — are “concerning,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“This is a bit of a sobering weekend for us,” she said.

“To get through our COVID-19 storm, it requires all of us to do our part. No exceptions, no workarounds, no trying to get around the very few but important rules that we have in place.”

The increase in new cases comes as a direct result of social gatherings happening in private homes, Henry said.

Household members plus ‘safe six’

Her new provincial health order restricts gatherings in private homes to no more than immediate household members and a “safe six” additional people — a number she acknowledged may still be too many for some households, depending on space and number of people already living together.

Henry said it has become clear gatherings of fewer than 50 people are not always safe.

“We need to pay more attention to those settings where we have people coming together for celebrations,” Henry said.

“This is going to be a challenge, more for some people than others. But this is something we need to do as a community.”

The province’s restriction of no more than 50 people remains in place, but there are caveats, Henry said. It requires that a venue have sufficient space to ensure physical distancing between everyone.

Henry said enforcement will be “stepped up” to ensure public health policies are followed, with a focus on the Fraser Health Region, where an increase in new cases has been identified.

“Orders … are a last resort, but it does reflect how [seriously] we need to take this now,” Henry said.

2,325 active cases

Henry also said it is now an “expectation” that British Columbians wear non-medical masks in public, stopping short of making them mandatory as the province heads into cold and flu season.

Wearing a mask is an added layer of protection in areas where it’s not always possible to physically distance, like the grocery store, Henry said.

Henry said she is asking businesses to review their COVID-19 safety plans with this in mind and to ensure protocols continue to be followed in areas where people gather, like lunch rooms.

There are now 2,325 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C., with 77 people in hospital, including 26 in intensive care.

To date, 13,371 people have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C. As of Monday, 5,077 people are under active monitoring by public health workers because of potential exposure to the virus.

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