British Columbia’s top doctor pleaded with people to buckle down and adhere to COVID-19 restrictions a little longer, as the possibility of a vaccine draws nearer.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the plea as the province reported 834 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, along with a dozen new deaths.
It marked the ninth straight day that the province has seen double-digit coronavirus deaths.
The United Kingdom became the first country in the world to approve Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.
Henry said B.C. would be ready to get it to high-risk groups as soon as the shot was cleared in Canada — potentially within weeks.
“I’m asking you all to continue and to do a little bit more, to do our part to slow the spread in our communities, in our families, in our loved ones, in our workplace, until vaccines are available for all of us,” Henry said.
“Most importantly, to protect those who are most at risk, particularly our seniors and our elders.”
In particular, she urged people to avoid all social gatherings with people outside their household.
The bulk of the new cases were in the Fraser Health region (529) and Vancouver Coastal Health region (174).
There were 66 cases in the Interior Health region, 45 in the Northern Health region and 20 on Vancouver Island.
There were 337 people in hospital and 79 people in critical or intensive care on Wednesday, both new records.
Henry pleaded again for people to avoid all non-essential travel, noting that a hockey team from the Interior had travelled to Alberta, only to return with COVID — now linked to dozens of cases.
“Making an exception for yourself or your team or your recreational needs puts a crack in our wall, and we see that this virus can exploit that very easily,” Henry said.
“This is avoidable.”
Sports restrictions update
New guidance for sports will be released next week, Henry said.
The detailed, written version of Henry’s November order restricting sports and events is also slated to be published later on Wednesday.
Henry said high-intensity group fitness activities, such as spin classes and hot yoga, will remain prohibited indefinitely.
Lower intensity group activities will remain paused until the new guidance is published.
And adult indoor team sports will see new restrictions.
“What we will be focusing on is structured programs or sport for children and youth, recognizing how important those are for our young people,” Henry said.
“We’re working with viaSport to bring those back to the level two viaSport restart guidance we have had in the past.”
Henry also would not rule out extending her ban on all public events, which currently remains in place until Dec. 7.
“These are not decisions we make lightly … we are looking at our options.”
There were two new community outbreaks in the Fraser Health region, one at the Cove shelter in Surrey, and one at the Millennium Pacific Greenhouses in Delta.
Health-care outbreaks were also declared at the Royal City Manor, Saanich Peninsula Hospital and West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni.
Active cases also set a new record at 8,941, while an additional 10,201 people were isolating due to possible exposure.
About 67 per cent of B.C’s 34,728 cases have recovered.View link »