B.C. reports 27 more COVID-19 cases, 1 new death, as outbreak declared on Haida Gwaii
Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at LifeLabs after being logged upon receipt at the company's lab, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
VICTORIA -- Health officials in British Columbia have announced 27 more cases of COVID-19 and one additional death from the coronavirus in the province over the last 24 hours.
Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced a new community outbreak in their update Friday, saying 13 people on Haida Gwaii have tested positive for COVID-19.
The update brings the total number of cases identified in B.C. since the pandemic began to 3,419, and the total number of deaths to 191.
"We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic," Henry and Dix said in their written statement.
There are 294 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C., including 12 people who are in hospital with the virus, three of whom are in intensive care.
The number of active cases in the province has decreased since Thursday, thanks to an additional 36 recoveries. A total of 2,934 people who have tested positive for the virus are now considered fully recovered.
Dix and Henry said there have been no new outbreaks in health-care facilities since their last update, leaving the province with two ongoing outbreaks in hospital acute-care units and one in a long-term care facility.
The outbreak on Haida Gwaii is considered a new community outbreak, health officials said. One person who tested positive there has since recovered, while the other 12 cases of COVID-19 are active.
"At this time cases are all local residents," Dix and Henry said of the outbreak. "While the initial source of transmission is still being investigated, the cases are all epidemiologically linked. Some are related residents who had recently travelled off island, and others are from exposure to known cases."
Friday's update comes at the end of a week that has seen continued growth in cases at a higher rate than B.C. had been experiencing in May and June.
Much of the focus from Henry, Dix and Premier John Horgan during their public remarks this week has been on how to hold summer gatherings responsibly, after video of a drum circle in Vancouver's Stanley Park showed hundreds of people failing to maintain proper physical distance from each other.
There have also been more than 80 confirmed cases of COVID-19 associated with two parties held in Kelowna around Canada Day, and officials have said more than 1,000 people are self-isolating as a result of those two public exposure events.
Several other public exposures have been reported in the Interior Health region since those two gatherings, including at a clothing store, two restaurants and a cycling gym.
“Public health teams are requesting the assistance of anyone who may have been exposed through community exposure to monitor themselves closely for symptoms, minimize time spent with others and get tested promptly if any symptoms arise," Henry and Dix said in their statement Friday.
The pair asked B.C. residents to assess the risks before socializing with others this weekend and for the rest of the summer.
“Can you keep a safe distance from others? Are you giving people the space to stay safe? Are you spending a short time together? Are you outside? Are the people you are with in your bubble? These are the questions we all need to ask ourselves," the health officials said. “If you can’t say yes to these questions, then say no to the activity and choose to do something else instead."
Dix and Henry also promised new rules for short-term vacation and boat rentals, something Henry had mentioned at press briefings earlier in the week.
The provincial health officer and health minister didn't add many specifics about the new regulations in their update Friday, saying only that a new provincial health officer order limiting the number of people who can stay or use such facilities would be put in place "in the coming days."
“Similar to the case in restaurants, the number of people will be determined by the size of the space to ensure safe social interactions for everyone," Henry and Dix said.
Though much of the recent growth in B.C.'s caseload has occurred in B.C.'s Interior, the majority of cases in the province since the pandemic began have been located in the Lower Mainland.
There have been 1,764 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Fraser Health region and 1,057 cases in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
Elsewhere in B.C., there have been 319 confirmed cases in Interior Health, 142 in Island Health, 79 in Northern Health and 58 among people who reside outside Canada.