B.C. health officials announce 22 new COVID-19 cases, 1 more death
A technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York's Long Island on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP / John Minchillo)
VICTORIA -- Health officials in British Columbia have announced 22 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one additional death from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours.
There have now been 2,623 cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and 166 deaths.
"We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic," said provincial Minister of Health Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in a written statement announcing the new cases Wednesday.
Currently, there are 214 active cases of the virus in the province, including 32 people who are hospitalized, seven of them in intensive care.
Wednesday's update comes as Henry and Dix prepare to provide another update on the province's modelling of the coronavirus pandemic Thursday.
The 22 new positive tests for COVID-19 announced Wednesday mark the largest single-day increase in nearly a month. May 8 was the last time more than 21 cases were confirmed over a 24-hour period.
In their statement, health officials again warned of the dangers of large gatherings, such as the anti-racism protest held at the Vancouver Art Gallery Sunday night and a demonstration expected to draw similarly large crowds to Vancouver's Jack Poole Plaza on Friday.
“Racialized communities face obstacles that others do not, and we have seen British Columbians proudly stand up and speak out against racism," Dix and Henry said in their statement. “Exercising our right to peaceful demonstration is extremely important, and equally important is keeping our communities, loved ones and friends safe during this pandemic."
They recommended members of the public "consider alternative ways to peacefully demonstrate" that allow participants to respect the public health order banning gatherings of more than 50 people.
"Gather in smaller numbers in multiple locations, maintain a safe physical distance from those around you and use a non-medical cloth mask for the brief periods when in closer contact to other," Henry and Dix said.
Protests have been held around North America over the last week in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by police in Minneapolis, Minn.
At her press briefing on Monday, Henry said protesters who attended the rally at the art gallery Sunday night should monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms.
"If you have any symptoms at all you need to self-isolate, you need to get tested, you need to be sure that you're not contributing to further transmission of this virus," Henry said.
There's no indication that anyone who participated in Sunday's protest had the virus, but if anyone did, there would be a high risk of transmission at such a large gathering.
A surge in infections would reverse the significant progress B.C. has made in limiting the spread of the coronavirus. On Wednesday, Henry and Dix announced that two more long-term care homes that have had COVID-19 outbreaks are now clear. Those facilities are Cottage-Worthington Pavilion and The Cedars in Mission, according to health officials.
There are currently six long-term care and assisted-living homes in B.C. with active outbreaks. At one point, there were more than 20.