As non-essential travel restrictions remain in BC, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reiterated on Wednesday the need for people to stay local and avoid travel unless absolutely necessary.
“This virus moves quickly and easily between us,” she said. “We are continuing to see unchecked transmission in many places, despite the efforts of our public health teams and contact tracers,” she said. “That is why, during this second surge, the need to follow the provincial health orders is so important.”
Henry repeated the province’s message that now is the time “to stay local. We need to stay small and we need to avoid those public settings that, right now, are a risk for all of us.”
Again, Henry said she “strongly” recommends and asks “everyone in BC to not travel right now unless it is absolutely essential for work or medical care.”
This, she said, “includes travel within BC and between provinces.”
A provincial health order, she furthered, “cannot stop you from getting into your car or onto a plane, but I am asking in the strongest of terms to not travel unless it is absolutely necessary.”
Henry was also asked if further enforcement around this rule should be taking place – particularly at BC Ferries terminals – and whether measures such as travel checkpoints at the terminals should be implemented.
“These are challenging things, and we’ve not had to do that before,” said Henry during a press conference. “There are many reasons that people need to travel, and we know that there are many essential reasons for people coming and going, and it is very much a challenge for workers at BC Ferries to take on that role, and I don’t believe it is their responsibility to.”
Instead, said Henry, “I think it is all our responsibility to each other to check about whether what we’re doing is for our own needs and recreation, or whether we need to – and can – postpone this travel until another time when it’s safer.”
And if “a family member is planning to return home for the holidays, then it is critical they follow all of the orders and guidelines here in BC, which means no socializing and no gatherings of any kind.”
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Henry made the comments during a press conference in which she announced 834 new test-positive coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the province to 34,728.
Broken down by health region, Henry said this equates to 174 new cases in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 529 in the Fraser Health region, 20 in the Island Health region, 66 in the Interior Health region, and 45 in the Northern Health region.
There have been 12 more deaths in the past 24 hours as well, bringing the provincial death toll to 469.
Currently, 10,201 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases.
There are 337 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19, 79 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.
Henry said that 24,424 individuals who tested positive have now recovered.