B.C. reports 131 new COVID-19 cases, surpassing 4,000 since pandemic began
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on COVID-19 on July 17, 2020: (Province of B.C. / Flickr)
VICTORIA -- Health officials in British Columbia have found 131 more cases of COVID-19 since Friday, bringing the provincial total to 4,065 cases since the pandemic began.
Most of the new cases were discovered Saturday, when 50 cases were reported. On Sunday, officials discovered 37 new cases and on Monday there were 44 new cases found.
There were no deaths related to the virus over the weekend, leaving the provincial death toll from the coronavirus at 195.
There are 445 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. on Monday, a dramatic rise from the 386 active cases in the province on Friday. Of those active cases, nine people are in hospital, including three in critical care.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced two new outbreaks at B.C. health-care facilities Monday, both in the Fraser Health region.
There are now eight active outbreaks at B.C. health-care centres – seven in long-term care facilities and one in an acute-care centre.
The provincial health officer said officials have been working hard to trace the contacts of known COVID-19 cases and that has contributed to the recent spike in B.C.'s case numbers.
"The numbers that we see from the past few days have reflected the intense work that my colleagues across the province in public health are doing on tracking down those people," Henry said. "We're doing what we call social network analysis to make sure that we're finding people. And many of those people – the vast majority of those people who tested positive over the past three days – are people who were on our contact list."
Despite the contact tracing efforts, Henry said British Columbians need to do more to avoid large gatherings, especially involving strangers.
"We need to do better collectively to stop these exposure events from happening," the provincial health officer said. "If your friends invite you to a party and it doesn't feel right, don't go. There's no better excuse than a global pandemic to be able to do the right thing."
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province is in a "moment in the pandemic" where health officials have slowed the death toll while case numbers continue to climb.
"Eight people have passed away in the last four weeks in British Columbia and we mourn them," Dix said Monday. "[But] 48 have passed away in the smaller population of Alberta and 272 in that time in Washington state."
Dix acknowledged that B.C.'s summer restart plan is contributing to higher case numbers, which he estimates are at approximately 44 new cases per day on average.
"Our number of new cases is climbing and it's climbing to levels that we haven’t seen in a number of months," the health minister said.
"The number of people now in self-isolation is disturbing. While some increase was expected, each of us knows our number is too high."
Most of B.C.'s COVID-19 cases continue to be found in the province’s Lower Mainland.
Since the pandemic began, 2,139 cases have been discovered in the Fraser Health region and 1,220 cases have been found in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
The Island Health region has seen 148 cases of COVID-19, an increase of one since Friday.
Elsewhere, the Interior Health region has seen 391 cases, and the Northern Health region has reported 96 cases.
Seventy-one people who live outside of Canada have also tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C.
A total of 3,425 people had recovered from the virus in B.C. as of Friday.