Twelve new cases of COVID-19 in north, two hospitalized

Northern B.C. saw 12 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend.

The total number of cases in the Northern Health region since the start of the pandemic rose to 154,  B.C. public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said on Monday. 

Henry repeated a warning issued by Northern Health last week, that people who attended events in the Prespatou area north of Fort St. John may have been exposed to COVID-19.

"We have testing available rapidly in the area," Henry said.

On Monday, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control reported there were 31 active cases of COVID-19 in the Northern Health region. Two people in the north were hospitalized with the disease, including one in intensive care.

There was a total of 294 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. since Friday's public update, bringing the provincial total to 5,790.

There were a total of 1,107 active cases in B.C. on Monday, including 28 people who were hospitalized – 10 of whom were in intensive care. In addition, public health officials were monitoring 2,273 people who may have been exposed.

Four people died of COVID-19 since Friday, bringing the province's death toll from the disease to 208. Of those who died, three were long-term care residents in the Fraser Health Region, Henry said.

"Tomorrow in the first of September. We are entering a new phase of our pandemic," Henry said. "We will likely have a second wave."

The increasing number of cases, combined with the oncoming cold and flu season, will mean British Columbians will need to refocus on the public health measures that kept the province's first wave fairly contained, she said.

"To be successful in the next phase, we have to step back. As the colder weather arrives, we all need to be ready. No one knows what fall will bring," Henry said. "We need to take a step back from some of the social interactions we've had this summer. It means always, always, always staying home if we are ill. We need to rethink gatherings, particularly ones we are having indoors."

Henry said there is no specific number of new cases per day that would trigger the province moving back to Phase 2 of its Restart Plan. She said her office is monitoring a number of things, including things like hospitalization rates and the number of new cases that can't be linked to a known source.

"This is a surge. It' is increasing numbers we haven't seen," she said. "(But) we are not seeing hospitals being overwhelmed. Most of the province has very low or no transmission."

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province is preparing for a possible second wave be stockpiling protective gear, and hiring 500 additional contact tracers to contact people who may have been exposed.

"This is a period for us... of preparation," Dix said. "COVID-19 this fall will be knocking on our door. We must not let COVID-19 in. Let's renew ourselves to being 100 per cent all in."

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