28 new COVID-19 cases at Fraser Valley Packers puts outbreak total at 59

Outbreak at the Abbotsford blueberry-packing plant has expanded with increased contact tracing

blueberry packers
An explosion of new COVID-19 cases at Fraser Valley Packers in Abbotsford accounts for almost all of the new infections in B.C. in the past day | Rob Kruyt

The COVID-19 outbreak at Abbotsford's Fraser Valley Packers has exploded to 59 infections thanks to 28 cases identified in the past 24 hours, B.C. provincial health officer Bonnie Henry said July 30. Yesterday, that outbreak included 31 total cases. 

Only one case of COVID-19 in B.C. was identified in the past 24 hours and was not related to Fraser Valley Packers. That makes for a total of 29 new cases in the past 24 hours and 3,591 cases since the virus first appeared in B.C. in late January

Henry stressed that eating fruit from that packing plant is safe, although normal safeguards, such as washing fruit before eating, is recommended.

No new COVID-19 infections have been determined in Haida Gwaii, leaving the total in that active outbreak at 20 cases.

Outbreaks at the Holy Family Hospital care home and at Mission Memorial Hospital remain active.

Of the 242 people fighting infections, only five are in hospital, with two of those in intensive care units. B.C. has not had as few as five people in hospital with COVID-19 since mid-March. There has also not been fewer than two people with COVID-19 in B.C. intensive care units since mid-March. One person has been released from hospital in the past 24 hours. The vast majority of infected people are self-isolating at home.

No new deaths from the virus have been recorded in the past 24 hours so the death toll from COVID-19 in B.C. remains at 194.

The breakdown of total COVID-19 infections by health region is:
•  1,076 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
•  1,865 in Fraser Health;
•  143 in Island Health;
•  360 in Interior Health;
•  86 in Northern Health; and
•  61 people who reside outside Canada.

More than 87.8% of people who have been infected with COVID-19 in B.C., or 3,155 people, have recovered.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said 513 of the province's 584 seniors' care homes have written plans to allow visitors. That is up from 465 homes with such plans in place a week ago. Dix vowed that by next week, all of those homes will have plans in place. 

Of the 71 homes that do not have written plans, Dix said "disproportionately, they are assisted-living facilities that have a different circumstance and standard than long-term care." People in the assisted-living facilities have more freedom to leave their facilities to go for walks, and have throughout the pandemic, he added. 

"I have heard some people who have not yet been able to have their first visits with their loved ones," he said. "I hear what you're saying, and I know the challenges, and these rules have been put in place by the provincial government with the guidance of Dr. Henry."

Provincial restrictions on visits include that the meetings will happen with each resident having a single designated visitor – not just one visitor at one time, but one designated visitor who is able to make multiple visits, perhaps on a weekly basis for 15 minutes or 20 minutes at a time.

Visitors and residents are led to designated places within the care homes, and that both visitors and residents are expected to wear protective equipment.

"The plan we put forward is prudent," he said.

"Currently, for example, we have only one outbreak at a care home in B.C. It's a serious one, and it's at Holy Family. So the reason we have started slow with visits, with one designated visitor per resident in a care home is for this very reason. We wanted to ensure that it would be easy for people to apply the rules. It is our expectation, and it is our expectation in the coming months to have more visits and more possibilities of visits, in consultation, obviously, with care providers and others."

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom