B.C. health officials reported 146 new cases of COVID over the long weekend, including two new cases in Island Health.
The numbers are from Saturday, Sunday and Monday – the duration of the B.C. day long weekend as officials took Monday off with the rest of the province.
From Friday to Saturday, there were 43 new cases. From Saturday to Sunday, there were 29 new cases. From Sunday to Monday, there were 46 new cases and from Monday to Tuesday, there were 28 new cases.
Of the new cases, four are epidemiologically-linked, meaning 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.
There have now been 3,787 COVID-19 cases in the province since the pandemic began, including 146 in Island Health, 1,119 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,989 in Fraser Health, 377 in Interior Health, 91 in Northern Health and 65 among people who reside outside of Canada (temporary foreign workers and visitors).
There are 319 active cases in the province. Of those, eight are in hospital (three more than July 31), with four in intensive care (two more than July 31). Five of the hospitalizations are in Fraser Health, one is in Interior Health and two are in Vancouver Coastal Health.
No new COVID-19 deaths were reported over the long weekend. The B.C. COVID-19 death toll remains at 195.
“This was not unexpected,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, following the announcement of the large numbers. The cases largely reflects people who were exposed two weeks ago.
The source of these cases are varied, Henry said, but share commonalities. Many exposures took place indoors and via the presence of crowds where there was close talking, sharing food, and contact.
Health officials have been able to find out where people were exposed with the vast majority of these cases, according to Henry.
She also said in the days following the B.C. Day long weekend, people can unwittingly spread the virus and they need to stay home if they are ill.
“We all need to pay attention to how we are feeling,” Henry said.
She once again reminded British Columbians that the virus does not discriminate and people need to be vigilant.
“We know that COVID-19 will be in our communities for some time,” Henry said.
Health Minister Adrian Dix is also “strongly” urging British Columbians not to attend parties, saying the past month has been a more difficult month in particular in terms of new cases.
And Canada’s top public health doctors warned Tuesday that vaccines in development for COVID-19 provide hope but will not mean an immediate end to the pandemic.
Dr. Theresa Tam says the Public Health Agency of Canada is planning to be responding to the pandemic for at least one and more likely two or three more years.
There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world, and in the best-case scenario, one or two might be approved for widespread use by the end of the year.
But infectious-disease and pandemic experts say it will take some time after a vaccine is approved to produce, distribute and administer billions of doses.
Dr. Srinivas Murthy, a critical care specialist and pandemic researcher at the University of British Columbia, says the world has never attempted a vaccine program at this speed or scale before.
Tam says the vaccine work is only one component of the pandemic response and that people must remain focused on strong public health measures to control the outbreak, including physical distancing and hand-washing.
To see B.C.’s COVID-19 cases by day and health authority, along with testing numbers and recoveries, visit the B.C. COVID-19 dashboard.
And to see the B.C. Centre of Disease Control’s list public exposures of COVID-19, go to http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/public-exposures.
When asked about COVID-19 cases on flights, a list that continues to grow on the B.C. CDC’s website, Henry says information provided by airlines in a flight manifest has been an issue “for a long time.”
The information relates to who booked the ticket, but is rarely accurate information about contacts and where people live, she adds.
According to researchers with Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide is more than 18.3 million, with more than 696,000 deaths.
Watch Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix on Aug. 4, 2020 below:
With files from The Canadian Press and CBC
More to come