Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

COVID-19: ‘A slow and steady increase’ pushes B.C. into the third wave, top doctor says

Cases have been escalating in recent days

As COVID cases in B.C. begin to rise even as vaccine doses get into arms, the spectre of the third wave is becoming real in the province.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed that as she warned people to stay vigilant.

“We ask about whether we’re in the third wave, it really is,” Henry said. “We’ve come down from the peak of our second wave, but we have levelled out for many weeks now and it’s a slow and steady increase.”

She said that the increase in cases is happening largely in the Lower Mainland. Of the 1,785 cases reported in B.C. over the weekend, 469 were in Vancouver Coastal Health and 1,010 were in Fraser Health. The latter region has seen the bulk of B.C.’s COVID cases.

“This is a concern because… that’s where the highest population density is and this type of an increase can quickly get out of control,” Henry said. “And that is something we don’t want when we’re in this phase of the pandemic.”

B.C. currently has just over 10 per cent of its population vaccinated with the first dose, not nearly enough for herd immunity.

Henry said the escalating cases are connected to two main places: workplaces and homes.

“We know that people are gathering together in indoor spaces,” she said, a behaviour made even more dangerous by variants gaining steam in B.C. There have been 1,240 cases of the U.K. B.1.1.7 variant in B.C. so far.

“We know the B.1.1.7 variant is more transmissible. It’s much easier to spread it with with even minimal contact in indoor settings.”

While little has changed in the way that people should protect themselves from the virus – masks, good ventilation, physical distancing – now there is “even less margin for error.”

Henry said she had sympathy with people who are weary after an entire year of fluctuating COVID restrictions, but not those choosing to flout the rules.

“If you are blatantly disregarding these public health orders there are ramifications for that.”

For the rest, Henry asked people to gather outside only in small groups.

“The only safe place for us to gather, with our small groups, with our friends, with our family, is outside,” she said. It’s been nearly two weeks since B.C. gave the green light to the “trusted 10,” allowing groups of up to 10 family and friends to gather outdoors. That group is to remain the same, and not be constantly changing members.

READ MORE: Is your group of 10 allowed to gather on restaurants patios? Not so fast, Dr. Henry says

For people hoping to have weddings and other events this spring, Henry urged people to push them to summertime.

“This is the time when we need to take those little sacrifices to continue to keep those important workplaces open we can continue to support our children in school.”

READ MORE: Younger people with COVID now requiring longer hospital, ICU stays: Dr. Henry

READ MORE: ‘Jury is still out’ on if people who have had COVID need 2nd vaccine dose: Dr. Henry


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students from Cedar Hill Middle School play and hold a sign to protest proposed music cuts to school band programs in the Greater Victoria School District, during a Monday event. The district is facing a massive deficit and is considering a number of options for cutting costs. (Photo courtesy Laura Alcaraz-Sehn)
Massive student demonstration planned to protest Greater Victoria school band cuts

Band students from 14 SD61 schools will be at major intersections Thursday after school

Reuben Forsland in his East Sooke studio with the guitar he crafted from hemp wood that he hopes will start a conversation about sustainability. (Rick Stiebel - Sooke News Mirror)
East Sooke artisan strikes a chord with custom guitars

Guitars include wood from Hendrix childhood home in Seattle

Island Health has reported a COVID-19 exposure at Pacific Christian Elementary School on April 12. (Google Streetview/Screenshot)
COVID-19 exposure reported at Saanich elementary school

Pacific Christian Elementary School experienced exposure on April 12

Leon the squirrel gets a fancy snack of almonds and sunflower seeds from a well-meaning local, who really should be leaving Leon to his own foraging devices. (Submitted)
Squirrels don’t need your nuts, thanks

Consider birding instead of wildlife feeding, SPCA suggests

Jessica Sault of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation is hosting a virtual cedar weaving workshop through Royal Roads University on April 25. (Black Press Media file)
Cedar trees weave deeply into lives of coastal First Nations communities

Jessica Sault of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation hosts virtual cedar weaving workshop through Royal Roads

A peacock struts by a pair of lamb siblings at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which remains closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
VIDEO: Victoria petting zoo optimistic about future after 13 months closed

Public helps non-profit Beacon Hill Children’s Farm with nearly $100,000 influx

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

FILE – RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by as protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion block rail lines, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Very scary’: B.C. travel rules too vague, shouldn’t involve police, civil liberties group says

BCCLA said that speaking with communities could have avoided top-down approach

Ocean Legacy Foundation members conduct a shoreline pollution cleanup in Vancouver. (OLP)
It’s time to end ‘suffocating’ plastic pollution along B.C. shorelines, advocates urge

This Earth Day, Ocean Legacy Foundation is launching a free educational platform to educate the public about plastic pollution

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
B.C. teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
An Island girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

The Coastal Fire Centre is looking ahead to the wildfire season on Vancouver Island. (Phil McLachlan – Western News)
Coastal Fire Centre looking ahead at wildfire season on Vancouver Island

‘We’re asking people in the spring to be very careful’

There are lots of resources for seniors looking for information about COVID-19. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
COVID questions? Here are some phone-based resources available for seniors

Here is a list of numbers to keep on hand for Vancouver Islanders who aren’t fond of computers

Most Read