Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

COVID-19: ‘A slow and steady increase’ pushes B.C. into the third wave, top doctor says

Cases have been escalating in recent days

As COVID cases in B.C. begin to rise even as vaccine doses get into arms, the spectre of the third wave is becoming real in the province.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed that as she warned people to stay vigilant.

“We ask about whether we’re in the third wave, it really is,” Henry said. “We’ve come down from the peak of our second wave, but we have levelled out for many weeks now and it’s a slow and steady increase.”

She said that the increase in cases is happening largely in the Lower Mainland. Of the 1,785 cases reported in B.C. over the weekend, 469 were in Vancouver Coastal Health and 1,010 were in Fraser Health. The latter region has seen the bulk of B.C.’s COVID cases.

“This is a concern because… that’s where the highest population density is and this type of an increase can quickly get out of control,” Henry said. “And that is something we don’t want when we’re in this phase of the pandemic.”

B.C. currently has just over 10 per cent of its population vaccinated with the first dose, not nearly enough for herd immunity.

Henry said the escalating cases are connected to two main places: workplaces and homes.

“We know that people are gathering together in indoor spaces,” she said, a behaviour made even more dangerous by variants gaining steam in B.C. There have been 1,240 cases of the U.K. B.1.1.7 variant in B.C. so far.

“We know the B.1.1.7 variant is more transmissible. It’s much easier to spread it with with even minimal contact in indoor settings.”

While little has changed in the way that people should protect themselves from the virus – masks, good ventilation, physical distancing – now there is “even less margin for error.”

Henry said she had sympathy with people who are weary after an entire year of fluctuating COVID restrictions, but not those choosing to flout the rules.

“If you are blatantly disregarding these public health orders there are ramifications for that.”

For the rest, Henry asked people to gather outside only in small groups.

“The only safe place for us to gather, with our small groups, with our friends, with our family, is outside,” she said. It’s been nearly two weeks since B.C. gave the green light to the “trusted 10,” allowing groups of up to 10 family and friends to gather outdoors. That group is to remain the same, and not be constantly changing members.

READ MORE: Is your group of 10 allowed to gather on restaurants patios? Not so fast, Dr. Henry says

For people hoping to have weddings and other events this spring, Henry urged people to push them to summertime.

“This is the time when we need to take those little sacrifices to continue to keep those important workplaces open we can continue to support our children in school.”

READ MORE: Younger people with COVID now requiring longer hospital, ICU stays: Dr. Henry

READ MORE: ‘Jury is still out’ on if people who have had COVID need 2nd vaccine dose: Dr. Henry


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fire crews battle a large wildfire north of Highway 1 east of the Yale Road West exit on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Firefighters battle wildfire in Chilliwack near Hwy 1

Helicopter dropping water on large wildfire in Chilliwack near Yale Road West exit, north of highway

web
Fire breaks out inside Mission Walmart

Customers, staff evacuated as firefighters investigate

Japanese Canadian citizens being transferred into waiting trucks outside Hope Station House. NNMCC L2021-2-1-004. Photographs courtesy of the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre
Fight continues for historic Hope Station House

Ombudsman report and stop work order come alongside district’s move to remove heritage status

Lift equipment is driven away from a fire in an adjacent unit on Industrial Way in Chilliwack on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack firefighters deal with heavy smoke, extreme heat in challenging industrial fire

Crews successful in containing fire to 1 unit in industrial building, adjacent units suffer smoke damage

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce workplace closures with COVID-19 spread. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Most Read