British Columbia’s top doctor says COVID-19 cases have levelled off in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions, but they’ve been rising in the North, Interior and to a lesser extent on Vancouver Island.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday there is some variability in how the illness is spreading in different areas, but social interactions are driving transmission across the province.
Another 12 people have died in B.C. after contracting the novel coronavirus, while the province reported 834 new cases.
Of the latest cases, 529 are in the Fraser Health region, 174 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 66 are in the Interior, 45 are in the North and 20 are on Vancouver Island.
The illness is still spreading quickly, said Henry, and while health restrictions on social gatherings and other activities are set to end Monday, it’s possible the rules could be extended.
Dr. Henry is urging people to avoid travelling for non-essential purposes, noting an adult hockey team from the Interior went to Alberta and its members spread COVID-19 in their community when they returned.
“I know that people feel like, ‘Oh it will be OK, we’ve not had any virus here, we’ll be fine.’ But this is just another cautionary tale that right now, you cannot take these types of licence from the restrictions that we’ve put in place for all of our safety,” she said.
“Making an exception for yourself or for your team or for your recreational needs puts a crack in our wall, and we see that this virus can exploit that very easily at this time of year.”
It’s crucial that anyone coming to B.C. over the holidays follows public health rules, Dr. Henry added.
“I cannot stop you by an order (from) getting into your car or going on to a plane, but I am asking in the strongest of terms for us to stay put.”
Dr. Henry also addressed what she called a small, vocal minority of people who are pushing back against public health rules.
“This is very real. Ask any of the families who have lost a loved one how real this is.”
There are 8,941 active COVID-19 infections in B.C., including 337 people who are in hospital, and more than 10,200 people are being monitored after exposure to a known case.