A healthcare worker uses a grabber to hand a woman a piece of paper at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A healthcare worker uses a grabber to hand a woman a piece of paper at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

No ‘safe six’ for household gatherings in Fraser Health as region leads B.C. in COVID cases

Majority of new cases are now emerging in Fraser Health

When provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued her latest public health order, she limited the number of people who could gather in a private home to the household, plus their safe six.

But those living in Fraser Health, B.C.’s most populous health authority, have been asked to limit even further.

“In Fraser Health, due to the rapidly escalating case count, we’re going one step further and asking our residents not to hold parties, with people outside their household, inside their home at this time,” said Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin, Fraser Health’s interim chief medical health officer and vice-president, population health.

“But if you would like to have a celebration at home with just your household, that’s great.”

Brodkin said that residents who want to meet up with a few people outside of their household should do so in a venue with a COVID-19 safety plan to reduce transmission. Getting together outdoors is also another option, she noted, but asked people to still stay away from large outdoor gatherings. Currently, B.C.’s limit on gatherings is 50, with physical distancing in place.

Fraser Health has been a topic of discussion in recent days, and has contributed to B.C.’s high daily COVID-19 case counts in the recent weeks. When 217 cases were announced on Tuesday, 145 of those were in Fraser Health. In total, the health authority – which is home to 1.8 million people – has had 7,674 confirmed virus cases and 119 deaths since the pandemic began. B.C. as a whole has had 13,588 confirmed cases and 259 deaths.

The health authority, which is densely populated and home to multi-generational households, felt it needed to take extra steps to get its case count under control.

“We all have to make sacrifices to bend that curve right now,” Brodkin said, adding that education is key to making sure people understand why new restrictions are put into place.

“Most people want to do the right thing.”

READ MORE: COVID Alert app has ‘been a challenge,’ not suitable for B.C. yet

For those who are deliberately breaking the rules, enforcement and fines are a possibility.

But Brodkin said that nixing the “safe six” is not about locking down homes completely.

“Our request is not about about preventing mum from coming over to have a cup of coffee,” she said, nor is it for people caring for out-of-household family.

“It’s about those larger gathering, gatherings celebrations of life, gender reveals.”

For the upcoming Halloween weekend, Brodkin said the same rules apply.

“We are certainly not cancelling Halloween. It’s totally possible to trick-or-treat and try to normalize things as much as possible for the children,” she said.

“A party inside their own household is totally fine.”

READ MORE: COVID-19 surge in B.C. fuelled by spikes in new cases in Fraser Valley & Surrey area


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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