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Safe Thanksgiving protocols outlined by BC’s top doctor

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 4:38 PDT, Mon October 5, 2020

With Thanksgiving coming up this weekend, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry recommended people follow the new safe celebration guidelines released by the BC Centre for Disease Control.

“Make our celebration large in thanks, large in gratitude, but small in size,” she said.

Henry also announced 358 total cases over the weekend, including eight that are epidemiologically linked. From Friday to Saturday there were 130, from Saturday to Sunday a further 108 and since midday Sunday another 120. BC has now had 9,739 cases of the virus.

There are 1,353 active cases, an increase of around 50 from Friday’s number. A further 3,010 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases. 

There are 66 people in hospital, a slight increase from Friday’s count of 63, and 16 people in intensive care, matching Friday’s total. Henry said the number of people hospitalized is fairly consistent, and is lower now than in the first wave of the virus earlier this year.

She added that eight per cent of cases require hospitalization as of last week’s numbers. This figure used to be close to 20 per cent earlier in the pandemic. The median age of people in hospital has come down, and more younger people are getting infected.

Sadly there were four new deaths over the weekend, three in the Fraser Health region and one in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. BC has now seen 242 virus-related deaths, and the median death age is 85. 

“These tragedies are compounded by the fact that we cannot mourn in the way that we usually do,” said Henry.

There were three new healthcare outbreaks, all in the Fraser Health region and each involving a single healthcare worker only. The outbreak at the Holy Family Hospital in the Vancouver Coastal Health region was declared over. There remain 19 active healthcare outbreaks, 16 in longterm care and assisted living and three in acute care. 

There was one new community outbreak in the Fraser Health region at Valhalla Distribution/MSJ Distribution Centre, with a number of positive cases associated with this outbreak. Other smaller exposure events continue to occur in schools and workplaces as well as other sites in the community.

Testing rates were up 15 per cent, with over 500,000 total specimens tested in BC and 50,000 new tests conducted last week. The positivity rate remains low, around 1.6 per cent. Last weekend there were 33,409 tests conducted in BC—over 10,000 per day—with a positive rate of 1.04 per cent. Turnaround times in labs have increased slightly to around 28 hours on average, said Henry.

Henry said most people are connecting with around 45 per cent of their normal contacts, down from the higher contact rate over the summer, and this lower number is where we should stay to prevent increased transmission.

For a list of community exposure events, click here.

For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.

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