FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. government)

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. government)

‘Fewer faces, bigger spaces’: Dr. Henry urges caution as B.C. sees 16 new cases, one death

Warning comes ahead of May long weekend

B.C. has recorded 16 new cases and one additional death due to COVID-19, Dr. Bonnie Henry said on Wednesday (May 13).

The province has had a total of 2,376 confirmed cases, 385 of which are still active. A total of 132 people have died. The death reported Wednesday was of a senior in a Fraser Health longterm care facility.

There are currently 59 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 15 of whom are in ICU.

Henry reminded British Columbians about the rules going forward on gatherings, as the province gets ready to enter phase two of the pandemic response over the May long weekend.

“I know its been challenging to understand what it means going forward,” she said.

The keys, Henry noted, are: “fewer faces, bigger spaces” even as British Columbians expand their bubble up to six people.

Those new people, she noted, should remain constant.

“Don’t change it up every day, that’s not going to be helpful,” Henry said, noting that friends and family should agree to remain exclusive to their new small groups.

And while gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed, proper physical distancing must still be maintained outside of people’s bubbles. It’s also a good idea to keep gatherings short and outdoors, Henry said, to limit the time during which the virus can be transmitted.

Ultimately, Henry said, it’s up to everyone to decide on their own if they will expand their bubbles and who to include, depending on the people in their own households.

Health Minister Adrian Dix asked people to consider if any Victoria Day travel plans were truly essential, “even if it’s your second home, even if it’s a place you go to every Victoria Day weekend.”

People who do leave their communities should “bring your own food, bring your own necessities there” to maintain physical distancing.

Henry said non-essential travel within B.C. could become an option in the coming weeks, after the long weekend. She said restaurants and salons will be given specific guidance to open as soon as May 19.

The provincial health officer also lauded the 75,000 British Columbians who had already taken a new B.C. Centre for Disease Control survey at www.bccdc.ca/covid19survey about COVID-19.

“The response has been outstanding.”

The survey includes the further option to sign up for serology testing, which will test for antibodies through a test Health Canada just approved.

The test’s approval was heartening, Henry said, to determine what kind of antibodies are left after both mild and severe cases of the virus, as well as what level of protection they can offer.

“I fully expect this is going to be really helpful for us.”

If you do not need to go somewhere, even if it’s a place you go to every Victoria Day weekend.

READ MORE: B.C. begins broad COVID-19 survey, with option for antibody testing

READ MORE: Trudeau not ready to talk about extending U.S. travel ban, even as deadline approaches

READ MORE: ‘Rapid, serial dating’ a no-go even as people expand their pandemic bubbles: Dr. Henry


@katslepian

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