Monday March 29, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 9:15 pm]
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Editor | Island Social Trends
Today the BC Government stands behind Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry with the implementation of a 3-week ‘circuit breaker’ (from March 29 at midnight through April 19) to help stop the now more rampant spread of COVID-19 in all areas of the province.
Premier John Horgan led today’s COVID update that is normally led by Dr Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.
Over the weekend there were 2,518 new COVID test-positive cases (daily average of 839.4 over three days, March 26 to 29), bringing the provincial total now to 98,165. Among the new cases, 142 (daily average of 47.3) were positive on Vancouver Island, which is also high for this region.
The new orders for 3 weeks:
As of midnight tonight, people are to work at home wherever possible, the indoor religious gatherings that were last week authorized are now again suspended, only outdoor small gatherings are allowed (stick to household only where possible), wear a mask in all indoor situations (or where 2-metre distance cannot be maintained).
As well, restaurants or food service outlets cannot serve food indoors — patio only, but takeout and delivery are still okay. If a food service outlet sells only snacks or appetizers, they must close, explained Dr Henry today.
So far only 14.2% of the eligible adult population in BC has been vaccinated so far, as articulated by Minister Dix today.
“Step up, dig deep and dig in,” said Dix today, as part of his continued appeal to people to maintain attention and compliance with public health orders.
Health checks important now:
“Since school has been out (for spring break), we’ve seen increases in cases across the board,” said Dr Henry today. Anyone who feels unwell in the family should get tested, she said.
“Don’t go into work or school if you’re not feeling well,” Dr Henry said. “Get tested if you’re not feeling well.”
Students to now wear masks (Gr 4 to 12):
One of today’s new public health orders requires all students in Grades 4 to 12 across BC to wear a mask the entire time when in school.
Previously masks were just mandated for use only in common areas, but students could work at their desk without a mask.
This was of concern to teachers who were pretty much always in the line of exposure, especially in indoor spaces that are not well ventilated.
The presumptions are that children in K to 3 find it more difficult to wear or manage wearing of a mask and also that children are less likely to have symptomatic illness.
Whistler Blackcomb shut down for 3 weeks:
There were a lot of test-positive cases of COVID from exposure at the Whistler ski resort area, including cases on Vancouver Island.
Today Dr Henry is giving Whistler Blackcomb staff a break, where it was proving to be difficult to manage customers’ behaviour in later evening hours, and where staff were living in communal settings. Whistler is now closed down for three weeks.
Today Premier Horgan said that, overall, British Columbians “have not met that test” of vigilance and paying attention to Dr Henry’s orders. Hence the need for three weeks to break the chains of transmission through the application of stricter public health orders.
“There’s got to be something you can do at home that’s as enjoyable as going somewhere else,” said Horgan, about the adherence to restrictions on travel that is essential-only (work and medical reasons).
AstraZeneca on pause:
Some deaths due to a serious type of blood clots as seen in some people (mostly young women) in Europe who were vaccinated with AstraZeneca has led the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to recommend no use of AstraZeneca for people under age 55. Also on the books is a recommend to not use AstraZeneca in people over 65. That leaves a narrow window of usage for that COVID vaccine product.
Today Dr Henry announced that BC will suspend administration of AstraZeneca for at least a few days until the data can be further assessed and observation made in Canada for any similar ill-effects in response to that vaccine product (none so far she said today).