Twenty-one new COVID-19 cases were reported in British Columbia on July 16, including one new case in Island Health.
Eighteen of the cases are confirmed by testing and three are epidemiologically-linked cases.
There has now been 136 cases in Island Health since the pandemic began. Of those cases, 127 have recovered and there have been five deaths.
There have also been 1,028 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,667 in Fraser Health, 223 in Interior Health and 65 in Northern Health. Fifty-one residents outside of Canada (visitors and temporary foreign workers) have also tested positive.
No new deaths were reported on July 16. The death toll remains at 189.
There are 192 active cases in the province and 2,789 people have recovered. Of the active cases, fifteen people are in hospital (one more than July 15) and three in intensive care (two fewer than July 15).
There have been a total of 3,149 cases in B.C.
There are no new healthcare or community outbreaks, although there continue to be three active healthcare outbreaks.
Earlier Thursday, B.C. health officials provided an update on serology testing following a study of COVID-19 infection rates in British Columbia that confirmed far more people carry the virus than were tested for it.
Public health officials say the findings will help tailor future strategies to control the illness.
According to Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, the study found fewer than one per cent of British Columbians had COVID-19 by the time restrictions eased in May.
Henry said the rates of infection detected in B.C. remain far too low to allow for immunity protection, but added measures taken to curb the spread early in the pandemic have been successful.
“This tells us that we still have very low levels of this virus,” Henry said. “We have done a good job at preventing community spread here in British Columbia.”
She said the way to reach herd immunity will be an effective vaccine.
Henry also said everyone should be wearing a mask, or face covering while on transit as “masks are safe to wear,” unless there is a disability preventing someone from putting on and taking a mask off. She said there are very few medical reasons that would prevent someone from wearing a mask.
Henry also responded to June’s overdose numbers. June was the worst month for overdose deaths in B.C. history, with 175 deaths.
“This ongoing crisis reminds us we need to put as much time, effort, kindness, for caring for people who use drugs as we have responding to the pandemic,” Henry said.
“This is a tragedy for all of us.”
According to Henry, the toxicity of street drugs has skyrocketed during the pandemic, and she urged all British Columbians to reach out to friends and family who use drugs to make sure they’re OK.
“This is a very dangerous time for people who use drugs,” Henry said. “We need to not assume that our friends are OK. We need to reach out and have those conversations.”
Henry once again called on the federal government to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use, a position also supported by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
“There is no more important time to do this than now,” Henry said.
To see B.C.’s COVID-19 numbers by day, active cases by health region and testing numbers, visit the BC COVID-19 dashboard.
According to researchers with Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is now more than 13.6 million, with more than 586,000 deaths. The United States continues to have the highest number of cases and deaths.
More to come
With files from CBC