B.C. records new daily high of 165 additional cases of COVID-19
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide an update on COVID-19 on September 8, 2020: (Province of B.C. / Flickr)
VANCOUVER -- Health officials have confirmed 165 more cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia in the last 24 hours, marking a new high for a single-day period.
There are now 1,705 active cases of the coronavirus in B.C., provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in her first live briefing on the pandemic since Monday.
Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix also announced one additional death from the virus, and offered their condolences to the family and caregivers of the deceased.
Fifty-seven people are in hospital with the virus as of Thursday, including 22 who are in intensive care.
Since the pandemic began, there have been 7,663 total cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and 220 deaths, while 5,719 people have recovered.
Henry and Dix also announced two more outbreaks of the coronavirus at hospital acute care units in the Fraser Health region
Fraser Health announced an outbreak at Delta Hospital on Wednesday, saying two patients in a single unit at the facility had tested positive for the virus. The other outbreak announced Thursday is in a rehabilitation unit at Peace Arch Hospital, Henry said.
With B.C.'s active caseload reaching another new all-time high, Henry took aim at social gatherings, which health officials say have been responsible for much of the transmission of the virus in recent weeks.
The provincial health officer reiterated the importance of her order limiting gatherings to a maximum of 50 people, but also stressed that 50 is an upper limit and not inherently safe. Physical distancing must still be maintained during such gatherings, she said.
"It needs to be scaled down based on the space that you are in, and I need everybody to understand that now," Henry said. "Just because you can fit 50 people into your small back garden does not make it safe."
She added that she feels sympathy for people who are frustrated by the restrictions still being placed on them to slow the spread of COVID-19, particularly young people. At the same time, however, the consequences of gathering in close proximity with large numbers of people - whether all at once or in several small groups on consecutive nights - are being seen with the continued growth in the number of cases and outbreaks in B.C., Henry said.
"As we've seen, many businesses are only able to safely accommodate a few people, and the same applies for our homes, inside and outside, regardless of our location," she said. "When we're socializing with others, smaller is always safer."
While urging people to limit their social gatherings, Henry also noted that health officials have mostly been able to stay on top of transmission events in the province. She said the record number of new cases announced Thursday consisted mostly of cases in which people who were being monitored by public health officials developed symptoms and were tested.
She also attributed the high number of new cases detected, in part, to an increase in the number of tests the province has been conducting. British Columbia tested 7,674 people for COVID-19 on Wednesday, which is the highest number of tests ever conducted in the province in a single day, according to Dix.
A total of 2,949 people in B.C. are under public health monitoring because of their proximity to confirmed cases of COVID-19, Henry said Thursday.
Since the pandemic began, the vast majority of B.C.'s cases have been located in the Lower Mainland. That includes 3,937 documented cases in the Fraser Health region and 2,714 in Vancouver Coastal Health.
Elsewhere in the province, there have been 489 cases in Interior Health, 241 in Northern Health and 196 in Island Health.
Eighty-six people who reside outside Canada are also included in B.C.'s total case count.