A driver pulls up to the new COVID-19 testing and collection centre at 14577 66th Ave. in Surrey. It was relocated from an urgent primary care centre near Surrey Memorial Hospital. This new centre allows for up to 800 tests per day, which is 550 more than the previous centre, according to Fraser Health. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

A driver pulls up to the new COVID-19 testing and collection centre at 14577 66th Ave. in Surrey. It was relocated from an urgent primary care centre near Surrey Memorial Hospital. This new centre allows for up to 800 tests per day, which is 550 more than the previous centre, according to Fraser Health. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Weddings, funerals have ‘potential to become a super-spreader’ event: Fraser Health

As of Oct. 21, health authority accounted for 70% of total provincial cases

In a week that B.C. has broken records four times for highest daily COVID-19 numbers, Fraser Health’s top doctor is reminding people that “even small gatherings are risky right now.”

Dr. Victoria Lee told reporters Thursday (Oct. 22) that as of the day prior, Fraser Health’s cases accounted for 70 per cent of the total provincial cases.

Fraser Health, she said, has more than 1,400 active cases.

“The context there is that we are still doing better than many parts of Canada and other countries, however, we cannot let our guard down. The majority of the new cases are linked to known cases and clusters,” said Lee.

“Community-related clusters and outbreaks have been connected to private gatherings, social events, such as weddings and work places. Transmission from these events can also spread to health services and health facilities and I think from we have seen, so far, even small gatherings are risky right now.”

In Thursday’s briefing from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, announced 274 new cases in the past 24 hours, with 203 of those in Fraser Health.

READ ALSO: B.C shatters another single-day COVID-19 record with 274 new cases, Oct. 22, 2020

READ ALSO: More than 200 new COVID-19 cases linked to Fraser Health region: Dr. Henry, Oct. 22, 2020

“Weddings, funerals and other life events need to be small, as small as possible,” Henry said, noting the gatherings should be limited to one household only, and at max a pandemic bubble of six or fewer.

On Monday (Oct. 19), Henry in her briefing said “there’s a number of different reasons” why cases in Fraser Health, specifically south of the Fraser, are so high.

“Some of it is spread within large family groups, inadvertently, but there’s also a large number of essential workers,” explained Henry, “so many of our poultry producing plants, the fruit-producing plants, the large congregate living settings for farm workers, many health-care workers and others, truckers and other essential services are people who live or work in those areas.”

In Surrey, there have been 1, 814 cases in the city between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, with 809 of those in September.

READ ALSO: Surrey’s COVID-19 case count exceeds 1,800, Oct. 20, 2020

Through to the end of July, there were just 521 cases, and by the end of August, there were 1,005 cases reported.

As for rate of COVID-19 cases, Surrey is seeing 200-plus per 100,000.

The BC Centre for Disease Control has been releasing monthly data on case breakdowns by municipality since the end of July.

Lee said she acknowledges there have been “a lot of sacrifices and people are mostly doing the right thing.”

What the health authority is seeing now, she said, is “transmission in different types” of households and events, such as weddings, gender reveals and funerals.

Asked if those events are happening in homes or at businesses, Lee said it was “a mixture.”

“Some of them are occurring at home and some of them are occurring in other settings, in businesses.”

She said some of those events are taking place “over multiple days with multiple groups of people,” adding that Fraser Health, and the rest of B.C., might be seeing some of the impacts of the Thanksgiving weekend.

With that, she said people might also not be interpreting the provincial health orders in the way that they should be.

“Oftentimes, people believe they are doing the right thing, however, I think it’s interpretation of some of the rules that exist as well as the potential for spread,” she explained.

“When you have six different people that you see every different night, then it is again, multiple different contacts. It’s not the consistent six that we should be sticking to.”

Lee did note that Fraser Health is the largest health authority in B.C., serving 1.8 million people, with 20 municipalities.

She said the health region is a “mostly” urban and suburban population, with a small rural population.

“And COVID has, whether it’s in Canada or elsewhere, seems to have spread much more easily in urban settings.”

Fraser Health’s rate of cases, she said, is 53 per million per day, while the Canadian average is 62 per million per day.

“It’s not surprising in terms of our population size and the types of spread that we are seeing in the community, but it doesn’t mean it’s not concerning. It is quite concerning because of the rapid increase of the number of community cases that we have.”

– With files from Katya Slepian



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

CoronavirusFraser HealthSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media files)
‘Potentially damaging’ winds expected in Metro Vancouver

Wind is expected to pick up late Sunday night

Items collected from last year’s Ocean Park Food Drive. (Contributed file photo)
Ocean Park Food Drive expands, open to residents south of 32 Avenue

Homeowners south of 32 Avenue and west of 160 Street encouraged to put donations on doorstep

Bella Coola RCMP are alerting residents that the road between 4 Mile subdivision and downtown will be closed until at least tomorrow. (File image)
Missing man found safe, Surrey RCMP said

Riley Arnold- Higgenbottom was last seen at 1:30 p.m., Nov. 28 in the 18900-block of 69 A Avenue

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Langley RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the Riverside Calvary church in Langley in the 9600 block of 201 Street for holding an in-person service on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, despite a provincial COVID-19 related ban (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)
Updated: Langley church fined for holding in-person Sunday service

Calvary church was fined $2,300 for defying provincial order

The Abbotsford Police Department is investigating a shooting on Adair Avenue on Saturday night. (Photo by Dale Klippenstein)
Drive-by shooting in Abbotsford targeted home with young children, police say

Investigators believe home was mistakenly targeted by assailants

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

(File photo)
Vancouver police warn of toxic drug supply after 7 people overdose at one party

Seven people between the ages of 25 to 42 were taken to hospital for further treatment.

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

Most Read