A major COVID-19 outbreak that led to the infection of 10 health-care workers in an intensive care unit at Abbotsford Regional Hospital has been declared over, B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Tuesday.
During her daily update, Henry also announced four new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, for a total of 2,601 to date. There are now 207 active cases of the virus across B.C., the lowest number since a public health emergency was declared on March 17.
Speaking to the situation at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, Henry said the outbreak was serious enough that two of the health-care workers ended up in the intensive care unit at one point.
“I’m extremely pleased to say both of them were discharged home,” Henry said.
No additional deaths have been recorded from COVID-19 in the last day, leaving the total so far at 165. Thirty-one people are in now hospital, including eight in intensive care.
Henry said four outbreaks in long-term care have been declared over in the last 24 hours, leaving a total of eight active outbreaks.
However, there are also two small new outbreaks in the Fraser Health region, linked to the offices of New World Companies and Maersk.
Testing is no replacement for safety measures
Henry spoke about the steps businesses are taking as they reopen to protect workers and the public.
“We have seen many examples of businesses owners being creative,” she said. “It is OK to move slowly and at a pace that works for you.”
She said that having a posted COVID-19 safety plan is a good indication that a business has done its homework before reopening. Some appropriate steps might include bringing in physical barriers, implementing employee training, enforcing physical distancing and asking people to wear non-medical masks.
Some business owners have also inquired about testing for workers, Henry said, but she cautioned that testing isn’t a suitable replacement for other safety measures.
“Testing can help identify those who have COVID-19 so that people can rapidly isolate,” she said.
According to Henry, testing for the virus can be unreliable for people who don’t have symptoms or who have very mild symptoms. Someone who tests negative one day could test positive the very next day.
She also spoke about the slow return to classroom learning for some children that began this week and said she expects all students will be back to some sort of physical school environment by September, though what that looks like still isn’t clear.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen between now and then,” Henry said. “I think it will be different than what we’re seeing right now.”
On Monday, Henry advised individuals who attended demonstrations in downtown Vancouver last weekend to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. An estimated 3,500 people gathered Sunday in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery for a protest against police violence and white supremacy.
Both Henry and Heath Minister Adrian Dix acknowledged the importance of people speaking out against hate but reminded British Columbians that large public gatherings increase the risk of spreading the virus.
A provincial ban on gatherings of more than 50 people remains in place.
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