Here's what BC health officials consider a coronavirus outbreak in schools

Sep 10 2020, 5:30 pm

On the same day that thousands of BC students returned to the classroom, provincial health officials also announced that the number of new coronavirus cases across the province hit a one-day record high.

And with concerns and questions swirling about what may be yet to come, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was asked about the approach health officials take when it comes to potential cases in the classroom, as well as what defines a “case” as opposed to an “outbreak.”

There is “protocol around this, and we are looking at several different scenarios,” said Henry. “We know that there is likely both adults and children right now – because we have transmission in our community – who may have the virus, and who may develop symptoms and get sick while they’re attending school, such as we’ve seen in other provinces.”

However, Henry said that if there is no actual transmission event that takes place at the school or “no exposure when somebody is infectious in the school,” then this is not considered an outbreak.

In scenarios like this, “local health officers will be working with every school so that every school community is made aware if there is a case in their school,” said Henry.

Still, even if a case is found, “it may not require anybody else to stay home,” she added.

Rather, “it may be that some of the learning group may have to be quarantined, depending on what type of exposure happened, and that would be part of the investigation that each health authority will do with the school.”

An outbreak on the other hand, “would be when we see transmission between people in the school setting, where extra additional measures have to take place,” said Henry.

And these incidents are “what we will be reporting on publicly to everybody if or when we have an outbreak.”

On Thursday, Henry announced a one-day “record high” of 139 new test-positive coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the province to 6,830.

Henry said that broken down by health region, this equates to 2,343 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 3,551 in the Fraser Health region, 187 in the Island Health region, 462 in the Interior Health region, 203 in the Northern Health region and 84 cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

There are 1,412 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, and 3,109 people who are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases.

Currently, 42 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19, 14 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.

There have been no additional deaths, leaving the provincial death toll at 213.

The province said that 5,190 individuals who tested positive have now recovered, as well.

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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