B.C. announces 2 more COVID-19 deaths, 80 new cases as death toll hits 200
Deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson provides an update on COVID-19 on August 17, 2020: (Province of B.C. / Flickr)
VICTORIA -- B.C. health officials announced two more deaths related to COVID-19 Thursday, bringing the province’s total death toll to 200.
Both deaths were in the Fraser Health region. “Our sincere condolences to all those who have lost friends and loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson.
Meanwhile, health officials announced 80 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, bringing the total number of cases to 4,825 since the pandemic began.
Of those cases, 780 are currently active across B.C., including 11 people who are in hospital for treatment, four of whom require critical care.
Gustafson and Health Minister Adrian Dix say that no new health-care outbreaks have appeared over the past 24 hours.
However, nine active outbreaks are ongoing in health-care settings, including eight at long-term or assisted-living facilities and one in an acute care facility.
One new community outbreak was announced at a Loblaws warehouse in the Fraser Health region, say health officials. Nine new cases of COVID-19 have been linked to the outbreak.
At the same time, an outbreak in Haida Gwaii has been improving. Gustafson says that everyone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the region is now considered recovered. However, health teams continue to monitor the area and the outbreak has not been declared 100 per cent over yet.
Health teams are now monitoring 2,574 people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 across the province.
While B.C. has been experiencing a surge of new COVID-19 cases, health officials say that the number of hospitalizations related to the virus is relatively low.
“The number (of new cases) at this time is relatively stable but we are continuing to see them,” said Gustafson.
“The number of people in intensive care and hospitals remains low,” she added.
Health officials continue to ask British Columbians to avoid large gatherings and to keep social circles small.
“Indoor gatherings, particularly in close proximity, are an important (source) of these cases,” said Gustafson.
Everyone should continue to practise physical distancing, wash their hands regularly and stay home if feeling at all unwell.
On Thursday, B.C.’s health minister addressed concerns about contacting Island Health for COVID-19 testing.
Dix said that technical difficulties related to Island Health’s phone lines are “being resolved” and apologized for any “inconvenience or concern” that may have arisen.
The health minister added that B.C. is just as focused on supporting Island Health with its COVID-19 efforts as any other jurisdiction in the province, despite the health region having a lower number of cases relative to other areas.
Dix said that this focus is due to Vancouver Island having a higher-than-average elderly population, which is more vulnerable to the virus, compared to other areas in B.C.
“One of our goals is to protect those who are most vulnerable to this illness,” said Gustafson.
Most of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases have been located in the Lower Mainland. The Fraser Health Region has reported 2,533 cases while the Vancouver Coastal Health region has confirmed 1,526 since the pandemic began.
Meanwhile, the Island Health region has reported 159 cases, an increase of one since Wednesday. According to Island Health, the new case is located in the South Island.
Elsewhere in the province, the Interior Health region has seen 411 cases while the Northern Health region has confirmed 121.
A total of 75 people who reside outside of Canada have tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C.
As of Thursday, 3,855 people have recovered from the virus in British Columbia.