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COVID-19 spread in B.C. remains at record levels as new health orders loom

Premier John Horgan said he expects new health orders to come Nov. 19
B.C. provincial health officer Bonnie Henry has been providing updates on the extent of COVID-19 in B.C. PHOTO: BC GOVERNMENT

With the COVID-19 virus spiralling out of control, and the province hitting an all-time record of 762 new cases in a 24-hour period, B.C. Premier John Horgan dropped some strong hints on Wednesday, Nov. 18 that he believes provincial health officer Bonnie Henry will declare new health orders to rein in the spread of COVID-19 during her 3 p.m. address on Thursday.

"Dr. Henry will have more to say about gyms and other businesses tomorrow [Nov. 19] as she finalizes the orders that she'll be bringing forward then," Horgan said near the end of his morning news conference.

Some of the language that Horgan used to describe travel restrictions was also significantly harsher than what currently exists in provincial health orders, perhaps indicating that travel restrictions will also soon tighten.

"When it comes to travel, non-essential travel is prohibited in B.C.," Horgan said, despite Henry so far only issuing strong recommendations for people to not travel around the province.

Henry's only ban on travel in an official health order is one that bars anyone in the Vancouver Coastal Health or Fraser Health regions from travelling outside their home health region for the purpose of playing sports – with "sports" meaning team sports, not skiing.

Tourism authorities in communities such as Tofino and Ucluelet have issued statements urging visitors to stay away, and the Vancouver Island chief medical health officer, Richard Stanwick, has floated the idea that visitors to the region should quarantine for 14 days.

Horgan said he opposes such a quarantine.

"My view is that that a quarantine on Vancouver Island may not be the best way forward," he said.

"I don't know that Dr. Stanwick's suggestion – we didn't get into a lot of detail with it with Dr. Henry this morning – but I'll leave it to her, and he, to figure out what they believe is the best way forward. Non-essential travel should not be happening in B.C."

The urging to stay put came on a day that saw the province hit record highs on many metrics related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are now 6,861 people actively fighting infections in the province. That's 272 more people than yesterday, and more than ever before. There are also 209 people fighting the virus in hospital – 11 more than yesterday, and more than ever before. Of those hospitalized, 58 are in intensive care units. That is down by five from yesterday, but the reason for the decline could be because more people have died.

There were 10 new deaths from the virus confirmed in the past 24 hours, according to provincial data.

That is one fewer than the record-high 11 people who died in the 24-hour period that ended yesterday.

Since the first death was recorded in the province in early March, there have been 320 fatalities.

In total 24,422 people have contracted the virus in B.C. More than 69% of those, or 16,914, have recovered. That leaves 327 people unaccounted for, with health officials telling BIV that the most likely reason for that is that they left the province without alerting authorities.

The majority of new cases continue to come from the province's most populous health region, Fraser Health, with many of those cases linked to social gatherings.

The breakdown of new infections by health region is as follows:

• 210 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
• 481 in Fraser Health;
• 20 in Island Health;
• 38 in Interior Health; and
• 13 in Northern Health.

New outbreaks at seniors' care homes have been identified at:

• Agecare Harmony Court Estates in Burnaby;
• Menno Home in Abbotsford; and
• Peace Villa in Fort St. John.

The outbreak at Burnaby's Normanna residential care home has been declared over.

There are 44 outbreaks at seniors' living facilities, including care homes, assisted living facilities and other retirement homes.

The nine active outbreaks in those facilities in the Vancouver Coastal Health region include:

• Arbutus Care Centre in Vancouver;
• Banfield Pavilion, in Vancouver;
• Revera Capilano Care Centre in West Vancouver;
• Columbus Residence in Vancouver;
• Fraserview Intermediate Care Lodge in Richmond;
• Holy Family Hospital in Vancouver;
• Louis Brier Home & Hospital in Vancouver;
• Royal Arch Masonic Home long-term care facility in Vancouver; and
• Three Links Care Centre long-term care facility in Vancouver;
The 29 outbreaks in those facilities in the ​Fraser Health region include:
• Agassiz Seniors Community in Agassiz;
• Agecare Harmony Court Estates in Burnaby;
• Al Hogg Pavilion in White Rock;
• Amenida Seniors Community in Surrey;
• Belvedere Care Centre in Coquitlam;
• Chartwell Langley Gardens in Langley;
• Dania Home in Burnaby;
• Evergreen Baptist Care Society long-term care facility in White Rock;
• Fellburn Care Centre long-term care facility in Burnaby;
• Finnish Manor in Burnaby;
• Fort Langley Seniors Community in Fort Langley;
• George Derby Centre in Burnaby;
• Good Samaritan Delta View Care Center 2 long-term care facility in Delta;
• Harrison Pointe retirement home in Langley;
• The Harrison at Elim Village in Surrey;
• Hawthorne Seniors Care Community long-term care in Port Coquitlam;
• Hawthorne Seniors Care Community assisted living in Port Coquitlam;
• Hollyrood Manor long-term care home in Maple Ridge;
• Jackman Manor in Langley Township;
• Kiwanis Care Centre in New Westminster;
• Laurel Place long-term care facility in Surrey;
• Menno Home in Abbotsfordl;
• Northcrest Care Centre in Delta;
• Peace Portal Seniors Village in Surrey;
• PICS Assisted Living in Surrey;
• Suncreek Village in Surrey;
• Tabor Home in Abbotsford;
• The Residence in Mission; and
• White Rock Senior Village in White Rock.

There are now two outbreaks at seniors' homes in Northern Health, thanks to the situation at Peace Villa in Fort St. John. The other home in that region with an outbreak is Rotary Manor Dawson Creek facility in Dawson Creek.

One outbreak at a seniors' living facility in the Island Health Region is at Tsawaayuss-Rainbow Gardens in Port Alberni.

The Interior Health Region has three such outbreaks, at:

• Hamlets at Westsyde in Kamloops;
• Sun Pointe Village in Kelowna; and
• Village by the Station in Penticton.