B.C. reports 80 new cases of COVID-19, 1 new case in Island Health

B.C. reports 80 new cases of COVID-19, 1 new case in Island Health
Province of BC/File photo
Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Réka Gustafson provide an update on novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on August 17, 2020.

B.C.’s COVID-19 death toll reached 200 on Thursday as the province recorded 80 new cases in the past 24 hours, including one new case in Island Health.

The two deaths were both in the Fraser Health Region.

“Round numbers remind us of the extent of this crisis and pandemic,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday about the death toll.

B.C. has had a total of 4,825 cases since the pandemic began. Island Health has now had a total of 159 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.

The latest case in Island Health is in the southern Vancouver Island region. Nine cases are active in the health authority, Dix said.

Island Health's COVID-19 cases as of Aug. 20, 2020.

Island Health’s COVID-19 cases as of Aug. 20, 2020.

Dix said while the positivity COVID-19 rate in Island Health is lower than any of the other health authorities in B.C., there are vulnerable communities with a higher elderly population.

“There is ultimately more vulnerability on Vancouver Island and that’s why we continue to have that policy in place,” Dix said, emphasizing why policies are still in place in Island Health to limit the spread of COVID-19.

He said technical problems with phone lines for COVID-19 testing in Island Health is being resolved.

Elsewhere in B.C., there has been 1,526 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 2,533 in Fraser Health, 411 in Interior Health, 121 in Northern Health and 75 among residents outside Canada (visitors and temporary foreign workers).

There are 11 people with COVID-19 in hospital as of Thursday (one more than Aug. 19), with four in intensive care (no change from Aug. 19). There are 780 active cases and 3,845 people have recovered.

A total of 2,574 people are being actively monitored as a result of identified exposure to known cases. That is an increase of 122 from the day before.

There are no new healthcare outbreaks as of Thursday but there is one new community outbreak at a Loblaws in Fraser Health. Nine cases are linked to that outbreak.

On Haida Gwaii, while the COVID-19 outbreak hasn’t been declared over, all confirmed cases in the cluster are considered fully recovered.

Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Gustafson says there is a small increase in cases among those aged 40 to 60 in B.C., which she added is monitored because the age group has a higher risk of COVID-19 complications.

The majority of new cases are among younger adults. She’s again urging small group sizes, saying indoor gatherings breed close contact, fuelled by crowding and alcohol.

“By continuing to work together, we can get through this. I’d like to thank you again for what you are all doing,” she said.

With the spike in new cases, health officials said they are working to increase testing capacity. Health authorities across the province now have the ability to test up to 8,000 people a day, according to the provincial government.

According to Dix, 811 had more than 5,000 calls during a peak day in March, earlier on in the pandemic, and on Wednesday there were more than 2,700 calls. B.C. tested around 4,000 people on Wednesday.

Dix also pointed on Thursday out that next week marks seven months since he began giving public briefings on COVID-19.

“It’s a long time to stay 100 per cent all in,” he said.

He said it’s important to take the long view during a pandemic, but not to forget the short view as well, which means remembering to take precautions this weekend and keep your social bubbles small.

On Friday, Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, is scheduled to provide an update at 10 a.m. PDT on compliance and enforcement measures under the Provincial State of Emergency, as part of the overall response to COVID-19.

Dix had said Monday there will be an announcement from Farnworth this week about more enforcement measures for COVID-19 rules.

“We cannot let a few wreck it for everybody else,” Dix said on Aug. 17.

Island Health’s COVID-19 data breaks down North, Central and South Island case counts and lists the number of days since any new lab-diagnosed cases. You can find it here. 

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.

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.

Pacific Coastal Airlines also lists possible COVID-19 exposures on its website. The most recent is #8P715 (Vancouver > Campbell River > Comox) on Aug. 5. All customers and staff who were on the listed flights are advised to self-monitor for signs of cough, fever, or respiratory issues and to call their local health authorities if symptoms arise within 14 days.

According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, the number of global COVID-19 cases is more than 22.5 million. More than 789,000 deaths have been reported.

With files from CBC 

Alexa HuffmanAlexa Huffman

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