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


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

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (File photo)
Surrey mayor taking it on the chin during budget public hearing

So far, he’s cut five callers off during Monday’s virtual meeting

The entrance at Fleetwood Villa in Surrey. (Photo: dignified.ca)
Fleetwood Villa resident tests positive for COVID-19, leading to ‘outbreak’ at facility

Fraser Health says it’s ‘critically important’ for people in the region to use COVID-19 assessment tool

A Surrey protest now in week 12 against a local resident has frayed the nerves of neighbours fed-up with the group’s presence. (Submitted photo)
Surrey neighbourhood fed-up with strange protest

Surrey Mounties say they’re monitoring the situation

Bhupinder Hundal. (submitted photo)
Surrey’s Bhupinder Hundal hired as news director of B.C. broadcaster

Grad of Princess Margaret Secondary now managing Global station

Staycation Box featuring an Indian experience. (Contributed photo)
White Rock company aims to bring vacation experience to front door

‘Staycation Boxes’ launched two months ago, include food bank donations

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
32 family members respond to Abbotsford care home’s plea for staffing help during COVID-19 outbreak

Menno Home asks for relief workers for food service, laundry and housekeeping

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

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: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (Black Press Media files)
Judge hears Langley development case that could end in mayor, councillors booted out of council

The conflict of interest case was launched by local voters a year ago

Most Read