BC’s top doctor has unveiled the province’s first order of region-specific provincial health worker as the province grapples with a surge in COVID-19.
Announcing the order on Saturday, provincial health officer Dr Bonnie Henry cited weeks of rising cases in the Lower Mainland, mostly linked to social gatherings inside, and a corresponding increase “worrying” hospitalizations which exceeded 100 for the first time since April this week.
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“Provincial health orders are always a last resort, but for now these additional measures are needed,” Henry said.
“They are needed here in this community, in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health areas. “
The orders are needed to ensure essential services, businesses and schools can stay open, she added.
The order goes into effect Saturday at 10 p.m. and will remain in place for two weeks, until November 23 at midnight. The central coast and the Bella Coola valley are excluded from the order.
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“We must take urgent and targeted action now to dramatically reduce the rate of transmission in our two Metro Vancouver health authorities,” added Health Minister Adrian Dix.
“Failure to do so will have serious consequences for all of us, regardless of our age if our healthcare system cannot provide the quality of care needed to respond to accidents, to medical and surgical care, due to increasing rates of disease among healthcare workers or increased demand. on hospital beds.
Under the new order, residents are prohibited from going to each other’s private homes for two weeks.
The decree applies to social gatherings of “any size” with people other than his immediate household, whether it is less than 50 people or where physical distancing is observed.
Weddings and funerals are permitted, but only with family members and must not have receptions.
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Restaurants are unaffected by the new order, as long as they closely follow pre-existing public health orders.
The ordinance prohibits sports travel inside or outside the region.
It also “strongly recommends” a freeze on non-essential travel outside of the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health areas, without implementing an outright ban.
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Indoor group physical activities such as spinning classes, yoga and group fitness are also prohibited until they have updated the COVID-19 safety plans approved by their regional medical officer of health.
Individual fitness activities are not affected.
Indoor sports where physical distancing cannot be maintained are also suspended. The decree does not apply to activities that are part of a school program.
All workplaces will also be required to conduct active, in-person testing for COVID-19. Increased vigilance regarding physical distancing and mask wearing, especially in small spaces, must be implemented, Henry said.
Businesses that are unable to meet their COVID-19 security plans will be shut down, Henry said.
Party buses and limousines are also prohibited.
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Religious centers are not considered “social gatherings” and are not affected, as long as they meet the 50-person limit, Henry said.
The new order does not affect daycares or schools, which Henry said the province is working to keep open.
“Schools are one of the things we want to protect because we know it’s important for teachers, for students, for families to have schools running,” said Henry.
“The focus is on reducing transmission in our communities. What we haven’t seen is a lot of transmission events in schools. Schools do not amplify this virus, they simply reflect what is happening in the community. “
Although the new order has the force of law, Henry said the province will focus on education rather than enforcement.
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The order came as Henry announced 567 new cases of the virus, the second highest the province has ever recorded in a single day. The record, 589 cases, was not set until Friday. The province has reported one new death.
Virtually all of the new cases were in Fraser Health Region (411) and Coastal Vancouver Health Region (122).
Twenty-two new cases occurred in Interior Health Region, nine in Northern Health Region and three on Vancouver Island.
However, Dix urged British Columbians outside the Lower Mainland not to be complacent.
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“The virus does not follow geographic boundaries,” he said, noting that active cases in the Interior Health Region, although lower than in the Lower Mainland, were at an all time high.
“What is needed now is to remember the provincial health orders, follow the guidelines and follow the orders,” he said.
British Columbia has reported a total of 17,716 cases.
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