B.C. health minister warns of ‘significant’ COVID-19 case count over weekend

B.C.’s health minister is warning that the number of COVID-19 cases recorded over the weekend in the province will be significant, following record numbers last week.

Adrian Dix said the case count, which covers three days between Friday and Monday, will be especially high in Metro Vancouver. 

The numbers “are not what we’ve seen before,” Dix said Monday on CBC’s The Early Edition.

“It’s going to capture people’s attention.”

B.C. reached a peak of 317 new cases on Oct. 24 and recorded a seven-day daily average of 254 cases as of Friday. 

Dix’s warning comes after footage on social media circulated over the weekend of hundreds of people crowding Granville Street for Halloween festivities. 

“It’s a very irritating event because I think it was a visible symbol of people not following the rules of gathering, which are limited to 50 people,” he said. 

“Obviously, it was there for all to see.”

It will take up to two weeks before health officials can determine whether that event led to more transmission.

Partiers crowd the Granville Entertainment District in downtown Vancouver on Oct. 31. (Submitted to CBC News)

Dix said a bigger problem is house parties and private gatherings, which are not visible on social media but are fuelling the province’s rising case numbers. 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a public health order last week limiting gatherings at private homes to members of a household and six guests. The order includes indoor and outdoor gatherings at private homes.

Officials in Fraser Health, B.C.’s worst-hit region, said people should limit gatherings to only those who live there.

Dix also discouraged people in Metro Vancouver from holding holiday gatherings this year. 

“This is an unusual time,” he said. “Let’s celebrate virtually and with the people in our household.” 

He said the province needs to more effectively tailor its message to younger people and to those who may not speak English as first language. 

Dix will be joined at the Monday briefing by Dr. Réka Gustafson, B.C.’s deputy provincial health officer, who is standing in for Henry. 

The briefing is set for 3 p.m. PT. 

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