VANCOUVER — British Columbia is at a critical point when it comes to a potential surge of COVID-19 infections, B.C.'s provincial health officer warned on Thursday.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province still has the ability to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases currently being seen, but people need to follow public health protocols.
"We're at that limit, we're at that precipice if you will, where we need to take the actions to ensure that we can move forward into the fall and keep our curve low," she said at a news conference.
Henry's comments came during a presentation of COVID-19 modelling data, which shows residents are keeping their contacts at 60 to 70 per cent of normal in the lead up to a potential surge in cases.
She urged people to avoid activities that are considered high-risk, such as spending time with groups of people they may not know, particularly ahead of the Labour Day long weekend.
"Our well-being as a community, as a province, is about getting back to work, getting back into classrooms, keeping businesses going and staying healthy," she said. "It's not an either/or situation. What we do need to do is pause those activities that we know are a for high-risk to all of us."
There's no magic number in terms of personal interactions you may have, and people may need to make sacrifices in their lives to keep interactions low, Henry added.
B.C. announced 89 new cases of COVID-19 as well as one additional death, bringing the province's total number of COVID-19 cases to 6,041 and 210 deaths.
The modelling data presented Thursday shows that people in two age groups — between 20 and 29, and 30 and 39 — continue to make up the largest number of COVID-19 cases in the province.
Henry's warning comes after Premier John Horgan said earlier in the day that the B.C. government will continue to use a "carrot and stick" approach to encouraging people to follow COVID-19 safety measures.
"I believe that the goodwill of British Columbians will win out," adding that people who disregard public health orders face "significant" fines.
"And we'll continue with that method of carrot and stick until we get the types of outcomes all British Columbians want to see."
Horgan said officials have been working "overtime" to remind the public that a global health pandemic is ongoing.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 3, 2020.