Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C.’s COVID-19 wave continues with 617 new cases

Lower Mainland restrictions aimed at bending curve down

B.C. set another record with 617 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the number of active coronavirus-infected people to 5,579.

Hospitalizations also continued to climb, with 167 people in hospital, 50 in intensive care. There were two additional coronavirus-related deaths, for a total of 290 since the pandemic began early in 2020.

New restrictions on private gatherings and some businesses imposed on the Lower Mainland are not expected to show up in test results until next week. As has been the trend in November, 424 of the new cases are in Fraser Health and 130 in the Vancouver Coastal health region. Vancouver Island saw 16 new cases, Interior Health 42 and Northern Health five.

New health facility outbreaks were declared at Sun Pointe Village in Kelowna, Fraserview Intermediate Care Lodge in Richmond and Capilano Care Centre in West Vancouver.

“As yesterday’s modelling update clearly showed, this is a critical time for everyone in our province,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement Nov. 13. “When faced with a resurgence of COVID-19, it can be difficult to muster the strength to keep moving forward, yet British Columbians continue to show unwavering resilience and fortitude to support friends and neighbours in our communities and take care of those who are most at risk, by following the orders and using our layers of protection.”

B.C. and Alberta have declined to use the federal government’s smartphone app, saying it is too broad in its notifications and puts an additional load on testing capacity. That capacity is now stretched thin in B.C., with the average daily number of tests up seven per cent from last week and the test-positive rate up from less than two per cent to five or more. The higher “positivity” rate shows testing is being well targeted, but also that spread is accelerating.

“What we’re focusing on is making sure that those people who need a test get a test,” Henry said in her Dec. 12 discussion of latest modelling results. “Our results are showing that that is working here in B.C. Having said that, as we go further into respiratory season and we start to see more influenza, we’re going to have to manage within our testing capacity. That means slight changes to who gets a test, or who needs a test for COVID-19.”

RELATED: Tofino, Ucluelet say stay away, Lower Mainlanders

RELATED: Schools, hospitals top B.C.’s virus protection list


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