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Cut COVID-19 cases or Fraser Health order could be extended, Dr. Henry

Orders restricting social gatherings, high-energy indoor classes and some sports could be extended beyond Nov. 23 if cases numbers don't start dropping below 500 a day by next week
On Monday, Nov. 9, Dr. Bonnie Henry once again called for smaller gatherings
On Monday, Nov. 9, Dr. Bonnie Henry once again called for smaller gatherings and said she's looking for reduced case numbers by next week to see if the new weekend orders are working as intended.

It will be a week before Dr. Bonnie Henry knows if restrictions on social gatherings, indoor activities and other orders are working.

And if they aren’t, or new problems arise, restrictions could be extended or new ones added, the provincial health officer told reporters Monday.

B.C.’s top doctor urged Fraser Health residents, including those living in the Tri-Cities, to scale their activities back and focus only on those essential for their children in the coming days.

“We must focus on reducing our social interactions, those interactions in our community that have led to spread, so we can continue to have our schools operating appropriately,” said Dr. Henry during Monday’s press conference.

The press conference, which was broadcast live on Facebook, presented more information on how orders announced on the weekend would be enforced.

For example, she noted that spin-classes and other high-energy indoor activities would have to shut down until guidelines are in place and reviewed.

“It’s group classes with exertion where we’re seeing this type of mass spread,” said Dr. Henry.

“There’s a process that we’re working through right now. Once the guidance is developed, we’ll make it public where people can submit [and] we’ll review those plans before those kinds of places can offer those types or activities again,” Dr. Henry said.

With Health Minister Adrian Dix at her side, Dr. Henry reiterated the importance of not socializing beyond the immediate household bubble, the same bubble used back at the beginning of the pandemic during B.C.’s period of peak restrictions.

The call for fewer faces comes as more than 1,500 cases COVID-19 cases was identified over the weekend.

There are now 4,981 active cases in B.C., most of them in the Fraser Health region, which includes the Tri-Cities.

In a Saturday update, provincial Bonnie Henry announced 567 new cases of COVID-19 in one day. On Monday, she announced 998 new cases and five deaths since Saturday.

She told reporters that her team would be monitoring cases over the next week to see if the orders put in place Saturday were working, if new ones needed to be added depending on new outbreaks, and if the order to end them at noon on Nov. 23 would be extended.

“This time next week will be an important time for us to know how effective we are,” she said.

In one bright note, Dr. Henry expressed pleasure at learning that a vaccine for COVID-19 has been found to be 90% effective and could be available by spring.

However, she noted that when a vaccine is available, it will first be given to high-priority groups such as long-term care residents and health care workers.

“It’s going to be challenging but we are thinking all of the ways of making it work,” she said.