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Northern Health concerned with rising, frequent new COVID-19 cases in region; urges no non-essential travel

Northern Health also advising no travel unless essential
Northern Health COVID-19 update. (via Northern Health)

While Northern Health wasn't included in strict orders aimed at two lower mainland health areas, the authority is concerned about rises of cases locally. 

In a statement dated today (Nov. 17), Northern Health states it's 'concerned with the upward trend and frequency of new cases and clusters in the region.' 

"Recent orders in the Fraser Valley issued by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to address cases in the Lower Mainland are not currently directed at Northern Health," the statement reads. 

"However, we need your support to avoid more stringent measures. We are encouraging against non-essential travel and are asking people to ensure they are following all of the current orders, guidance, and advice."

As of publication (2:30 p.m., Nov. 17)  there have been 518 positive tests for the virus in Northern Health since March, which includes 61 active cases, nine people hospitalized and all of whom are in critical care, and 454 recoveries.

Another major area of concern for the north is deaths from the virus. In a three-day span, there have been two deaths. 

The authority confirmed to PrinceGeorgeMatters that the fourth and fifth tragic passings were two residents living in the Rotary Manor in Dawson Creek, where a facility outbreak was declared on Nov. 2.

The victims were both men.

The outbreak was originally a single-staff case at Rotary Manor, but days later, Northern Health reported additional infections, totalling two staff and seven residents

The one reported on Friday (Nov. 13) by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was in his 70s, while the other reported by Health Minister Adrian Dix on Monday (Nov. 16) was in his 80s and was one of nine in total that passed on the weekend.

Northern Health has issued the following guidelines to help stop transmission and spread: 

  • Maintaining our social connections are important for our well-being. However, please keep your bubble small and limited to your household and a handful (up to six) close friends or family (your 'safe six')
  • When planning your holiday gathering, please avoid travel and choose to celebrate with individuals in your bubble
  • Physical distancing measures are especially challenging for young people. It is important they also keep their bubble small and, as much as possible, limit their interactions to a close group of friends from within their school cohort
  • Essential workers, such as health-care workers and teachers, play a critical role in our communities and therefore it is imperative they also keep their bubble small
  • Remember: The provincial health officer’s orders to household gatherings applies province-wide. This means no more than six people from outside your household bubble should gather in your home

Dr. Henry issued regional restrictions on Nov. 7, when a surge of cases began in the province, mainly in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health. 

The orders focus on social gatherings, travel, group physical activities, indoor group activities and workplaces in those two authorities, Henry said. 

"Right now, it is very important that everyone in these areas of Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health significantly reduce their social interactions," she said on Nov. 7.

"There are to be no social gatherings of any size with anyone other than your immediate household."

The new order includes indoor gatherings of fewer than 50 people, even in controlled settings, so it supersedes the province's mass-gathering order that it has had in place for some time.

"Funerals and weddings may proceed with your immediate household but there are to be no associated receptions inside or outside your home or at any public or community-based venues," she said. 

"This is a time-limited order but this is what we need to do now."

Those restrictions are set to end on Nov. 23 at noon. 

- with files from Kyle Balzer, PrinceGeorgeMatters, and Glen Kordstrom, Business In Vancouver