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B.C. reports 236 new cases of COVID-19 over past 3 days, 4 new cases in Island Health

Minister of Health Adrian Dix provides an update on COVID-19 on Aug. 17, 2020 (Province of BC)

British Columbia health officials say there were 236 new cases of COVID-19 over the past 72 hours, including four new cases in Island Health. From Friday to Saturday, there were 100 new cases reported, followed by 88 new cases from Saturday to Sunday and 48 cases from Sunday to Monday. Ten of the new cases are epidemiologically-linked, people who were never tested but were presumed to have COVID-19 because they developed symptoms and were close contacts of a laboratory-confirmed case. Two new deaths were reported in the Fraser Health, bringing the death toll from COVID-19 in 98. Friday to Saturday was the highest single-day case count at 100 new cases. April 25 was the second-highest at 95, Aug. 13 was the third-highest at 93 and March 28 was the fourth highest at 92. Island Health reported four new cases over the past 72 hours, bringing the total number of cases in the health authority since the start of the pandemic to 154. On Friday, 7-Eleven announced an employee at its store on 1327 Douglas St., located on the corner of Douglas and Johnson streets, had tested positive. B.C. has now had a total of 4,594 since the beginning of the pandemic. There are 743 active cases and 3,653 people who tested positive have recovered.. Four people are in hospital (down eight from Aug. 14), with three in intensive care (one fewer than Aug. 14). Dix said the hospitalizations show a “tale of two pandemics,” with hospitalizations dropping but case counts going up and fast. “This pandemic is not ending soon,” he said. “This pandemic that we’re all tired of, so very tired of, will be going on now, we will expect, well through 2021 into 2022.” Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 1,419 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 2,425 in Fraser Health, 154 in Island Health, 405 in Interior Health, 117 in Northern Health and 74 among residents who do not reside in Canada (visitors and temporary foreign workers). The number of people in self-isolation and monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms is now up to 2,286, an increase of 260. Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Réka Gustafson, who did Monday’s briefing with Dix, said the majority of new cases continue to involve young people, who often have mild versions of the illness. “This actually makes things quite challenging. That’s because some people might not realize they have COVID-19 and they can inadvertently spread it,” Gustafson said. “You could easily spread the virus to someone who is vulnerable.” There are two new long-term care outbreaks in Fraser Health and one in Vancouver Coastal Health. On Sunday morning, Vancouver Coastal Health reported one staff member at Arbutus Care Centre in Vancouver had tested positive. That afternoon, Fraser Health confirmed a positive test in a staff member at Czorny Alzheimer Centre in Surrey. Both employees are now self-isolating at home and both facilities have increased cleaning and infection regimens. There are no new community outbreaks. However, there do continue to be community exposures. Northern Health is asking anyone who attended the It is Time Canada event in Deadwood, Alta. from July 30 to Aug. 2 to self isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.
Dix said he spent much of the weekend engaging with young people to encourage them to prevent spreading COVID-19. He added that surveillance efforts over the weekend have resulted in the closure of some nightclubs and other establishments that won’t be permitted to reopen without the permission of public health officials, including the Ivy Lounge in Vancouver’s Trump Tower. Officials have also reviewed banquet halls to determine how well they are following public health rules. Dix said there will be an announcement from Solicitor General Mike Farnworth this week about more enforcement measures for COVID-19 rules. “We cannot let a few wreck it for everybody else,” Dix said. He also addressed private parties inside people’s homes, saying that there are no excuses for bending the rules. “We need to hold each other responsible for doing the right thing,” Dix said. “There is no immunity, to be successful we have to work together every day.” He also said it’s difficult to address issues with gatherings inside homes because of privacy issues, so there has to be stronger messaging. And Gustafson said B.C. has had very few cases linked to outdoor transmission of the virus, and the major concern for public health officials continues to be indoor gatherings. Earlier Monday, the provincial government announced staff and students at middle and secondary schools in British Columbia will be required to wear masks on buses and in common areas when classes resume. To see B.C.’s COVID-19 numbers by day and health authority, along with testing numbers and recoveries, visit the B.C. COVID-19 dashboard. The numbers are updated at 4:30 p.m. PT each weekday.

COVID-19 cases across B.C., including the time period from July 31 to Aug. 13, 2020. (BC CDC)

To see a list of public COVID-19 exposures in the province, including links to exposures listed on health authority websites, visit the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website here. According to researchers with Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide is more than 21.7 million, with more than 776,000 deaths. Watch Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Réka Gustafson give an update on COVID-19 in B.C. on Aug. 17, 2020. More to come With files from The Canadian Press and CBC