Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)

COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

In recent weeks, COVID-19 has been “disproportionately” affecting communities in the Fraser Valley, says B.C.’s top doctor.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, along with Fraser Health CEO and president Victoria Lee and Health Minister-elect Adrian Dix spoke from Surrey on Thursday (Oct. 29) for the province’s latest briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party, Oct. 29, 2020

Of the new cases, 173 were reported in the Fraser Health region. That’s about 74 per cent of the new cases.

While Fraser Health is the largest health authority in the province, with about 1.8 million people, it has 1,764 of the 2,344 active cases. That’s about 75 per cent of the active cases, despite having a little more than one-third of the province’s population.

Henry said the province has seen “quite a dramatic rise” in transmission in cases following the Thanksgiving weekend, and “many of the new cases we have today are directly linked to gatherings, in our homes and elsewhere.”

She pointed to the latest death, announced Thursday, that was a woman in her 80s in the Fraser Health region, who attended a “small birthday party” of fewer than 10 people.

“Unfortunately, somebody unknowingly brought COVID-19. Even though it was a small party in one person’s home, the majority of people who were in that home became infected with COVID-19 and this person unfortunately ended up in hospital and dying from it.”

Henry added that there could be instances were people have a wedding where “a part of the ceremony is in a church or a temple or a gurdwara and the rules are followed there,” but then people move the gathering to a home.

“They aren’t able to maintain those distances and people inadvertently spread it and we’re seeing it being spread to hundreds of people through several events of that nature.”

Lee said that while Fraser Health “represents a significant percentage” of all of B.C.’s cases, “we also know that COVID-19 knows no boundaries.”

“At this crucial time, we are asking people who reside in the Fraser Health region to take a pause and reconsider our social interactions outside of our household. This is in addition to the public health order Dr. Henry shared earlier this week,” said Lee.

READ ALSO: Weddings, funerals have ‘potential to become a super-spreader’ event: Fraser Health, Oct. 22, 2020

Henry issued a new order Monday (Oct. 26) limiting gatherings in private homes to a household and their “safe six,” only. She also said there was now an “expectation,” but not an order, that people wear masks in businesses, workplaces and indoor public spaces, especially in high-traffic areas.

On Thursday, when asked if she would implement specific regulations to regional health authorities, Henry said, “There is a possibility of adding regional-specific orders, but we know that most people are following the recommendations that we have.”

Henry added that B.C. hasn’t had a lockdown “as we know them” from other jurisdictions, “and nor do we intend to.”

Asked what could be done for better messaging about enforcement in other languages, Henry said they have been doing “outreach to a number of different communities in the past week in particular, recognizing where people are being infected.”

“When we’re going through a crisis like this, the importance of having our faith community to support us in doing the right thing in keeping people safe and still being able to have that connection to our faith community,” said Henry, adding that they’re looking to the community leaders to “help reinforce the importance right now of keeping our celebrations to small and safe ones, and keeping the larger celebrations of life or parties or other important memories to a time when it’s safe to do so.”

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 4,588 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 8,036 in the Fraser Health region, 256 in the Island Health region, 734 in the Interior Health region, 406 in the Northern Health region and 89 cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

– With files from Ashley Wadhwani, Katya Slepian



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

CoronavirusFraser Health

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

Just Posted

A convoy of seven pickup trucks, six of which were hauling boats, makes its way around the Chilliwack Law Courts on Dec. 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
First court date for Fraser River anglers ticketed during demonstration fishery

Convoy of trucks circled the courthouse in downtown Chilliwack Tuesday honking their support

A full moon sinks behind the mountains as the sun rises on the first day of December in Chilliwack on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
WEATHER: Chilliwack in for nearly a week of sunshine

Forecast calls for sun most of the week, temperatures reaching high of 10 C Friday

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Mirandy Tracy, left, and Tara Kurtz are two Langley mothers who are organizing a "sick out" for Tuesday, Dec. 1 to protest COVID conditions in schools. They're calling for masks and smaller class sizes, among other things. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Politician, labour leader throw support behind student Sick Out day

Langley parents started the movement to keep kids home on Dec. 1 as a protest

A family emerged with a purchase at the Tannenbaum Tree Farm at 5398 252 St in Aldergrove on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Christmas tree season is off to an early start

People are ‘bored’ with staying home due to COVID-19 and want to decorate early, farm owner believes

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 heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Most Read