Family groups have been limiting their social contacts during the coronavirus pandemic. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Coronavirus infection among children has been low in B.C., but those older than 19 have significant risk of COVID-19 and should be careful about expanding their social circles, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says.

The warning came as B.C. K-12 schools prepared for about 60,000 students to return for part-time classes this week, and camping in provincial parks reopened along with personal service and other businesses shut down by pandemic restrictions. Monday was also marked by street protests following demonstrations and riots in the U.S.

Statistics to May 30 show fewer than one per cent of B.C. positive tests have turned up in children under 19, just 77 cases from thousands of children tested, Henry said. There have been 260 people between age 20 and 29 with positive tests, and 442 or 17 per cent of all cases in people between 30 and 39.

“We also know that transmission in children usually happens in the household contacts, where you have a lot of contact from an adult to a child,” Henry said. “We purposely timed the reopening of schools to be sure we had an incubation period to see if we were going to start seeing increased numbers of cases in our communities once we started our restart program. If we had had seen an increase we would have postponed or delayed the start of schools.”

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B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said protection of seniors in care remains the highest priority.

“As we’ve seen, there continues to be a very significant risk to people in long-term care,” Dix said. “We are not changing at this time those rules on visiting, but we understand the challenge that everyone face and what an extraordinary additional pressure that places on family caregivers.”

Henry advised that people’s activities and increased social contacts depend on their own activities.

“If you’re not going back to school, if you’re not going back to work, or you’re continuing to work from home and do things remotely, then you might want to expand to another family or household or group,” Henry said. “But right now we need to hold those limits small and we see that this can spread very quickly if we’re not careful that way.”


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