Many new COVID-19 cases in B.C. transmitted over Thanksgiving

Virus spread at Thanksgiving

Dr. Bonnie Henry is urging British Columbians to keep gatherings small, or forgo them all together, after Thanksgiving dinners from earlier this month led to many of the new COVID-19 cases the province is now seeing.

Another 234 cases new cases of COVID-19 were announced Thursday, bringing the number of active cases to 2,344, the highest it has ever been in B.C.

“Halloween is coming this weekend, we have Diwali, we have Remembrance Day and other celebrations in the coming weeks,” she said.

“It is a time as well of cooler weather and increased in coughs and cold season. As well, more people are spending time indoors ... Many of the new cases we have today are directly linked to gatherings in our homes and elsewhere and are now resulting in community transmission of COVID-19 across the province.”

Over the Halloween weekend, Dr. Henry urged British Columbians to keep their groups small, avoid Halloween parties and maintain physical distance out on the streets when trick-or-treating. She also pointed to her new public health order that limits house guests to a maximum of six.

While the bulk of B.C.'s new COVID-19 cases have been coming from the Fraser Health region, Dr. Henry noted that cases are being transmitted to the Okanagan from out-of-town visitors.

“Somebody may come from the Lower Mainland and visit somebody in Kelowna, this is one of the scenarios that's happened up there,” she said. “People in Kelowna unwittingly become exposed, become ill, and by the time that it's recognized there's been an exposure event in their work place, which might be a school or a long-term care home. That is how it's being transmitted.”

Kelowna's École de l’Anse-au-sable is the only school in B.C. where an outbreak has been declared, and 16 cases have been identified in the school. As a result, the school has opted to shut down entirely until next week. Earlier, Dr. Henry said the first case at the school was contracted from someone visiting from out of town.

“From what we know in Kelowna, it is people who come in from other places, or who've traveled, or who've met family members or who had close contacts with somebody who's had this disease and brought it back and it's spread in a limited way within their community, with the people they've had close contacts with,” Dr. Henry said.

“And that's why the orders that we're putting in place are the same across the province.”

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