'Our COVID summer': B.C.'s top doctor urges caution over B.C. Day long weekend

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has advice ahead of the August long weekend for British Columbians.

The province’s top doctor is calling on the public to play it safe over the B.C. Day long weekend and help prevent a second surge in COVID-19 cases.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the plea at a live briefing Thursday as she announced 29 new cases of the virus, and no new deaths.

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All but one of Thursday’s new cases are linked to an outbreak at the Fraser Valley Packers blueberry packing plant, which now involves 59 people.

British Columbia saw a surge in cases throughout July, following several exposures at private parties in Kelowna over the Canada Day long weekend.

British Columbians were encouraged to resume travel within the province as a part of the province’s Phase 3 plan back in June.

“Let’s make this long weekend a different one than what we saw in early July… what you do today and this weekend will determine how we are going to be able to manage in the weeks and months ahead,” said Henry.

“This is going to be our COVID summer, an unusual summer, a summer of doing things differently, but we can do it.”

She took a moment to thank British Columbians for listening and changing their behaviour when health officials raised concerns about the spike in new cases earlier this month.

New cases have begun to trend downwards, after regularly topping 30 per day and even reaching into the 40s and 50s.

“I want to especially thank the young people who have taken this to heart,” she said.

The number of people hospitalized with the virus dropped to just five, Thursday with two in critical care.

B.C. has recorded a total of 3,591 cases, with 3,155 people having recovered, or about 88 per cent.

It still has 242 active cases, while the provincial death toll stands at 194.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said about 88 per cent of long-term care and assisted living facilities now had safety plans and were allowing visitors.

He said he expects all of them to have such a plan in place by next week.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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