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Sunday, November 28, 2021

‘Think small, think local’: B.C. health officials advise against big spring break plans

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British Columbia’s top doctor is advising people not to make big plans for the upcoming March break as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a threat.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says British Columbians will need to stay local during the annual pause from school. The province had previously indicated there would be encouragement to travel around the province if transmission numbers dropped.

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“In terms of travel, right now as always, we need to stay local,” Henry said.

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“And we’re going to be reassessing things as we move through the next weeks. And we will be talking more about March break and what we need to do in the coming days.”

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Henry is pointing to the province’s rate of transmission, positivity rate and reproductive rate for why restrictions remain in place and why spring break travel is not being encouraged.

The seven-day rolling average for new COVID-19 cases was an average of 481.4 cases a day on February 24, a steady climb from the 432.1 daily average reported a week earlier.

The test positivity rate has also gone up, although not as dramatically. Two weeks ago, 6.2 per cent of all COVID-19 tests in the province came back positive, going up to 6.6 per cent last week and sitting at 6.7 per cent now.

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The province could not provide specifics on the reproductive number — a key metric for measuring whether the pandemic is under control. Henry says it is over one, which means for every COVID-19 case in the province it is passed on to more than one person.

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“In the last two weeks, we started to see (the reproductive number) move above the level of one, and what that means is that there is potential for rapid growth if we are not careful,” Henry said.

“It is like a tree that keeps growing and spreading. But we need to keep the cases low and slow so that we can control that.”

B.C. is working with other provincial governments to determine some national policies around the spring break. The province is also looking at how it can support British Columbians, particularly young people, to have safe opportunities with friends during the break.

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© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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