Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday that B.C. is in the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, as she confirmed 499 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths over the weekend.
The new numbers bring B.C.’s active case total to 1,639.
“One can say that we are in our second wave,” Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters Monday.
There have been more than 150 cases per day since Friday, with the largest single day total at 174 from Sunday to Monday.
Despite the increase in cases, Henry was quick to point out that the province is not seeing “exponential growth” and that most people in B.C. are doing everything right.
A total of 11,687 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began and 253 have died from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
There are 67 people in hospital, 19 of whom are in critical care. The province is actively monitoring 4,028 people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
The health care system is not yet overwhelmed, Henry said.
Most cases are in young people who are not needing hospitalization, she said. The province is also seeing transmission happen within family groups and small clusters, with larger clusters happening in essential workplaces, she added.
That could change quickly if behaviours change, Henry said.
“It is possible that we could go into one of those rapidly increasing curves or waves,” she said. “We are in a tricky place right now.”
‘We’ve managed to relatively control our community spread’
There continues to be transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 across B.C. but the province is not recording new infections at the same rate as other parts of Canada, according to Henry.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Canada has passed 200,000, four months after the country reached the 100,000-case threshold.
On Monday, federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the Canada-U.S. land border would remain closed to all non-essential travel until at least Nov. 21.
“Here in B.C. we’ve managed to relatively control our community spread,” Henry said.
WATCH: Despite a second wave, Dr. Bonnie Henry says ‘we have control over what that wave looks like’
Clusters of cases are associated with essential services like grocery stores and food processing plants and contact tracers are working “around the clock,” Henry said.
On Sunday, Fraser Health declared new outbreaks of COVID-19 at a meat processing facility in Surrey, B.C., and at two long-term care homes.
A staff member at Zion Park Manor, a long-term care facility in Surrey, has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently isolating at home.
Enhanced cleaning and control measures are in place at the facility and Fraser Health is working to identify anyone who may have been exposed.
School safety measures working, Henry says
Six weeks into the school year, there has been limited transmission and no widespread outbreaks of COVID-19, a sign that safety measures taken in schools are working, Henry said.
Henry reiterated the importance of following public health guidelines, like keeping groups small and wearing masks, and said businesses need to continue following their COVID-19 safety plans.
‘The vast majority of people have taken this to heart,” she said.
Henry is also encouraging parents to keep Halloween plans small this year.
She said parents should communicate with the neighbourhood to find out which houses will participate — and understand that some people will not want children coming to their homes.
Instead of shared candy bowls and homemade treats, she suggests having a candy slide of hanging individual candy packages in a way that children can grab them themselves.
“This is not the year that we’re going have hundreds of kids going to hundreds of houses in large groups,” Henry said.
“That can’t happen this year.”