COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks to the media on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.

Current restrictions on social gatherings and sports events in B.C. have been extended until Feb. 5 and tighter rules may be coming if infections continue to rise.

New case counts have climbed in recent days even as the number of people who’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 has passed the 41,000 mark.

“Our curve is trending upward,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said on Thursday.

“We know what we need to do to bend that curve back down,” she added. “We have been successful in doing that prior to this winter break and we need to do that again.”

Social gatherings in people’s homes will continue to be banned, no in-person worship services can be held, and restrictions against certain sports events and types of group fitness activities will remain in place.

“We are closely monitoring our progress and if further action is required, we will take that,” Henry said. “Right now, we need to hold the line.”

A total of 761 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed across B.C. between Wednesday and Thursday, up from the average of about 550 cases a day that had been reported in recent weeks. Ninety-six of the new cases were in the Interior Health region.

Some of the increase is due to a change in the way case counts are being reported, Henry said, but the total number of new daily infections was still above where it had been recently.

She attributed the increase to people flouting rules against travel and social gatherings during the Christmas and New Year’s periods.

“The number of new cases we are seeing in every health authority shows us that some people made the decision to make an exception for themselves. It may seem inconsequential and it may not have been done with an understanding of the impact it could have,” she said.

“But if 10,000 people, a few people in every town, city, or village in our province, makes these small concessions for themselves, that increases all of our risk exponentially,” she said.

“This is our riskiest time right now,” Henry said. “We cannot let our guard down as vaccine is just beginning.”