COVID-19 Q&A: Part 10

COVID-19 Q&A: Part 10 | Dr. Ali Ghahary

“What’s causing the recent spike in British Columbia’s daily COVID-19 numbers and who is being most affected?”
As we have seen previously, cases of COVID-19 tend to spike as a result of large gatherings (i.e. parties, wedding receptions, dinners, etc.) – particularly those that are held in private residences, which then results in a tailspin where other individuals become infected. There currently seems to be an increase in positive cases in those who are between the ages of 20-29 and 30-39, however, all age groups are still being impacted by this virus, while 64 is the median age of those being hospitalized as a result of COVID-19. 1 in 10 of those diagnosed with COVID-19 have been identified as health care workers, although our province has also seen a decline in the proportion of health care worker cases.

“What are the new restrictions ordered by Dr. Bonnie Henry?”
If you reside in either the Fraser Health or Vancouver Coastal Health regions, you must limit your interactions with others to your immediate household only – meaning that you are to have no in-person interactions with those whom you do not reside with (for example, you should not be inviting any friends over to your home.) However, if you live alone, you may have up to two other individuals at your home as long as those individuals are people you interact with regularly. While things like weddings and funerals can be held with only immediate households in attendance, you should not be hosting receptions afterwards – as larger gatherings of this kind are where we see the high rates of transmission of COVID-19.

If you need to travel outside of the aforementioned regions, you should only be doing so if it is essential.

Group indoor fitness activities are also currently banned, as are contact sports. If you are a facility that hosts group fitness classes, you are required to submit an updated safety plan which must then be approved.

Employers must review their COVID-19 safety plans to ensure their all measures are being taken to keep both their employees and customers safe (for example, adhering to physical distancing, regular hygiene, and wearing face masks.) While these are lawyers of protection that can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s still possible to contract the virus with these measures in place…therefore, where an employer cannot meet all of these protective measures or has employees who are considered high-risk for COVID-19 (for example, if the employee has an underlying condition that puts them at greater risk of contracting the virus, such as a respiratory condition (i.e. asthma, COPD), diabetes, or heart disease), then it is ordered by Dr. Henry that employers should allow those workers to work from home. Employers must also ensure that in-office employees are doing daily health checks for any symptoms of COVID-19, and also ensure that employees who do have symptoms or are sick in any way stay home.

“Do British Columbia’s new restrictions apply to all regions?”
Currently, the enhanced restrictions surrounding COVID-19 only apply to those who reside in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions given the rapid increase in new daily cases in these areas. However, regardless of whether or not you reside in these specific regions, individuals across all parts of British Columbia must continue to adhere to the current orders and recommendations made by our provincial health officials.

“How long are the new orders in place?”
The order went into effect on Saturday, November 7th, 2020 at 10:00 PM until Monday, November 23rd, 2020 at 12:00 PM. It is the hope that within this two-week period, there will be a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions. That being said, Dr. Henry has the authority to extend the order and implement further measures if necessary.

For more information on these (and other) orders in British Columbia that are related to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit gov.bc.ca.