There are now 23,661 cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in B.C. after health officials announced 717 new cases Tuesday.
One of these new cases is epi-linked.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reports that there have been 177 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 484 in the Fraser Health region, 16 in the Island Health region, 18 in the Interior Health region, and 21 in the Northern Health region.
There has been one new case of COVID-19 from someone who resides outside of Canada.
There has been one new health-care facility outbreak at Tsawaayuss-Rainbow Gardens in the Island Health region. In total, 42 long-term care or assisted-living facilities and seven acute-care facilities have active outbreaks.
There have been no new community outbreaks.
There have been 11 new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 310 deaths in British Columbia.
Of the total COVID-19 cases, 198 individuals are hospitalized, 63 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation. As well, 10,960 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases.
There are 6,589 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, and 16,469 people who tested positive have recovered.
Public alerts and notifications are posted on the BC Centre for Disease Control’s (BCCDC) website and on all health authorities’ websites.
“We need everyone working together to stay small, stay local and help us slow the spread of COVID-19 in our province," said Henry.
“The biggest impact you can make is through the small actions you take every day.
“Just as we put on our jackets to keep us warm in the rain and snow, so too are our COVID-19 safety layers there to protect all of us. Washing your hands, keeping a safe distance and always wearing a mask in places where you are around people you don’t know – these things make a difference.
“We have seen an increase in new cases on Vancouver Island, in the Interior and in the North, many of which are connected to travel to and from the Lower Mainland. That is why is it important that we stay local and travel less right now.
“When we spend time inside with people from outside of our household, our workgroup or school cohort, the risks increase for everyone. Instead, let’s stay connected virtually and make it a safer winter for all of us.”
New Public Health Order
The new provincial health orders restrict social gatherings of any size with anyone outside of your immediate household, as well as indoor group physical activities, including yoga, spin, group fitness and dance classes.
Basically, indoor locations "where people are increasing their heart rate," Henry said. "We have seen repeatedly, not just here, but around the world, that these are venues that we see rapid spread of this virus, even with people who don't recognize that they are ill."
That ban also applies to indoor competitions and games where physical distancing cannot be maintained, including sports such as minor hockey. However, Henry said, "these activities can be replaced with the individual exercise of practice and drills," as B.C. similarly permitted prior to the province's restart of its sports programs, so long as it "allows everyone to maintain safe physical distancing."
Public health officials are also recommending "in the very strongest terms" that British Columbians avoid travel into and out of the two health regions. "We need to go back to what we were doing in March and April and May, where it was essential travel only," Henry said.
That includes a ban on travelling into or outside of the two health regions for sports, for the time being.
Restaurants are permitted to remain open for the time being, on the condition that each establishment adheres to COVID-19 safety plans. If that isn't possible, Henry suggested that they revert to take-out only service.
Party buses and limousines are also ordered to cease operations for the two-week period.
--With files from Megan Lalonde.