Two more people have died of COVID-19 in British Columbia and 236 more people have been infected with the coronavirus over the weekend, provincial health officials announced Monday.
The new numbers bring the province’s total to 4,594 COVID-19 cases and 198 deaths since the pandemic began.
Both deaths announced Monday occurred in the Fraser Health region.
One hundred of the newly announced cases were discovered between Friday and Saturday, the second largest single-day increase in B.C. since the pandemic began. Meanwhile, 88 were discovered between Saturday and Sunday, and 48 were discovered between Sunday and Monday.
The number of active cases of the virus in B.C. has also increased dramatically since the last update from provincial health officials on Friday, with 114 new active cases bringing the total to 743 active cases by Monday.
There are four people currently in hospital in B.C. with COVID-19, including three in critical care.
The majority of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases continue to be located in the Lower Mainland, with 2,425 confirmed in the Fraser Health region and 1,419 in Vancouver Coastal Health.
Elsewhere in the province, there have been 405 confirmed cases in Interior Health, 154 in Island Health and 117 in Northern Health. There have also been 72 cases recorded in B.C. among people who reside outside of Canada.
A total of 3,653 people in B.C. have fully recovered from the virus.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson also announced two new outbreaks in health-care facilities Monday. The new outbreaks at care centres in Vancouver and the Fraser Health region bring the province’s total to 10 active outbreaks in health-care facilities.
Health officials are monitoring a community exposure event in northern B.C., saying anyone who attended the It Is Time Canada prayer gathering in Deadwood, Alta., should self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.
Approximately 17 COVID-19 cases in the Northern Health region have already been linked to the event held between July 30 and Aug. 2.
“Sadly, while two people died this weekend, overall in the month of August, which we’re now more than halfway through, the number of people who have passed away is a small fraction of what it is in neighbouring jurisdictions such as Alberta and Washington state,” Dix said.
The health minister said all British Columbians must learn to adjust to the new normal as it will “be in place for a long time.”
“This pandemic is not ending soon,” Dix added. “This pandemic that we’re all tired of, so very tired of, will be going on now, we would expect, well through 2021 into 2022.”
Health officials said the province will increasingly crack down on large gatherings, particularly indoor parties, to ensure rules around physical distancing and capacity limits of 50 people or less are strictly enforced.
“Whether it’s those who think they can escape the ravages and lasting impacts of COVID-19 or those who think they can counter our efforts to stop the spread without consequences, there are two things to understand about COVID-19 and our B.C. effort,” Dix said. “There is no immunity and to be successful, we have to work together every day and appeal to the best in one another all the time.”
Dix and Gustafson also addressed the planned return of B.C. students to classrooms next month, the same day the province announced that some students would be required to wear masks in certain common areas of school buildings.
“We are here to support schools to get children back into education and we have a lot of reassuring data from around the world that’s telling us that it is actually possible to safely do so,” Gustafson said.
“We know that transmission from children to adults is uncommon, we know that adults in schools are not at higher risk of COVID than in the community, we also know that schools are part of the community and therefore reflect COVID-19 transmission.”