B.C. reports 2 more COVID-19 deaths as active cases top 800 for the first time
A COVID-19 test is shown in Ontario: (The Canadian Press)
VICTORIA -- For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there are more than 800 active cases of the disease in British Columbia.
Health officials announced 90 additional confirmed cases of the coronavirus in B.C. Friday, as well as two additional deaths from the illness.
There have been 4,915 cases of the virus in B.C. since the pandemic began, and 202 total deaths. As of Friday, 3,889 people who previously tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered, leaving the province with 824 active cases, the most it has ever recorded.
Friday's update came in the form of a written statement from Health Minister Adrian Dix and deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson. The pair said 13 people are currently in hospital with COVID-19 in B.C. That total includes five people who are in intensive care.
There have been no new outbreaks declared in health-care facilities or in the broader community over the last 24 hours, Dix and Gustafson said, but they reminded the public that exposures to the coronavirus continue across B.C.
There are 2,594 people under active public health monitoring because of exposure to known cases of COVID-19, the health officials said.
“COVID-19 is going to be with us for the foreseeable future," Gustafson and Dix said. "What that means for British Columbians is that we are all learning to live our lives with the virus in our communities. Public health teams know what they need to do and so do you. We know that with appropriate protective measures, we can reduce the risk of COVID-19 and live our lives."
Friday's update comes on the same day B.C.'s Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced new penalties for people found to be violating rules around large gatherings during the pandemic.
In their statement, Dix and Gustafson described the new enforcement measures as shoring up "a gap that has emerged" in the province's COVID-19 response. At the same time, the pair highlighted that relatively few people have been engaging in the types of behaviours the new penalties seek to address.
"It is important to remember that the people who choose to disregard public health orders are the exception," the officials said. "Rather, we are heartened that the vast majority of people in B.C. are doing their part to protect themselves and each other."
Gustafson and Dix reminded British Columbians of what doing one's part means.
“COVID-19 prevention looks different in different places," they said. "In public, around people we do not know, we focus on giving people more space. In workplaces and classrooms where we interact with people we know, keeping our groups smaller, staying home when sick and reducing very close face-to-face contact is the goal."
Since the pandemic began, most of the cases of COVID-19 detected in B.C. have been in the Lower Mainland, with 2,572 cases in the Fraser Health region and 1,569 in Vancouver Coastal Health.
Elsewhere in B.C., there have been 417 cases in Interior Health, 160 in Island Health and 122 in Northern Health. There have also been 75 cases among people who reside outside of Canada.