Private parties in B.C. linked to spike in COVID-19

Private parties continue to be a source for spreading COVID-19 in B.C., according to the province’s top doctor.

At least 45 cases this week have been linked to private parties in the Metro Vancouver area, Dr. Bonnie Henry said during the COVID-19 press briefing Thursday afternoon.

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Henry said the number of contacts related to those parties is around 400.

“So we do know that some of these, even though they may have been smaller individual parties – the overlapping groups meant that there’s a large number of people potentially exposed,” she said.

Currently, 1,518 people in all health authorities in B.C. are in isolation, as they had close contact with somebody who’s tested positive for COVID-19.

A “good portion” of those are linked to private events, said Henry.

The exposure events, she said, resemble a Kelowna outbreak, which was linked to private gatherings held over the Canada Day long weekend.

“It seems to be that there are overlapping social groups that have been to a number of parties…slightly different from what happened in the Interior, but a similar concept,” she said.

The cases are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region – which includes Richmond – and Fraser Health.

Many of the recent cases in B.C. are in people under the age of 50.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday that “large private parties come with huge consequences,” as evidenced in the recent rise in cases.

Dix spoke directly to those organizing or attending private parties and gatherings. 

“Enough,” he said. “That’s enough now. Refusing to accept that COVID-19 changes everything – must change everything – puts all of us at risk… Let’s be clear, it’s not the location of the behaviour, it’s the behaviour in the location.

“Whether it’s table-hopping or packed houseboats or free-for-all parties in a private residence, large groups over an extended time period are the biggest welcome mat there is for COVID-19 and it’s time to stop putting out that welcome mat.”

Health officials reported 47 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, with no new deaths. In total, 290 cases were reported this week (July 31 to Aug. 6).

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