Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, announced six more COVID-19-related deaths on Thursday, including two on Vancouver Island.
The deaths are the first ones recorded in the Island Health Region.
Island Health has confirmed one individual was in their 80s and one was in their 90s.
“It is with deepest condolences Island Health can confirm the deaths of two Island Health residents due to COVID-19,” Island Health President & CEO Kathy MacNeil said in a statement.
“While this is not unexpected in this pandemic, it does nothing to mitigate the grief families and friends are feeling today, nor the sense of loss Island Health care providers experience when someone in our care passes away.”
Of the six deaths announced Thursday, three are linked to two long-term care facilities in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and one in the Fraser Health region.
It’s the highest number of deaths over a 24 hour period in B.C. since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
There have now been 31 COVID-19 deaths in British Columbia. B.C. health officials only list the region the deaths have occurred in. They do not list communities.
Also on Thursday, Henry announced 55 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the B.C. total to 1,121. There are 72 cases in Island Health, the same number as April 1, 2020. There are 525 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 386 in Fraser Health, 121 in Interior Health and 17 in Northern Health. Twenty one long-term facilities have COVID-19 outbreaks.
A total of 641 people have recovered, over half of the province’s COVID-19 patients. One hundred and forty-nine people are in hospital and 68 people are in intensive care.
“The number of cases in B.C. is growing, the number of cases hospitalized is growing,” Henry said.
“But we are seeing the growth in a manageable way here in B.C. — probably because of all the measures we are taking.”
Henry also said there is a community outbreak related to an inmate at the Okanagan Correctional Centre. It is it he first confirmed COVID-19 case in a B.C. correctional facility.
“This is something we have been concerned about and planning for,” she said.
Health Minister Adrian Dix reminded people now is not the time for tourism travel in B.C. and people should only be leaving the house for essentials.
“The greatest potential source of infection is loved ones,” Dix said, adding that people returning to Canada must self-isolate.
Henry is asking people to forgo travel to smaller communities, which have limited to health-care resources. This includes travel to vacation homes and fishing lodges.
She also asked faith leaders to start considering how to celebrate Easter, Passover and Ramadan without coming together in person.
Earlier Thursday, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said almost half of the deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Canada have occurred in long term care homes.
She says we need to double down on efforts to keep the novel coronavirus from spreading.
In Canada, there are over 11,000 COVID-19 and the number of cases globally passed one million, according to a database by Johns Hopkins University.
Watch the April 2, 2020, news conference below:
To see previous case counts and the epidemic curve, visit the BC Centre for Disease Control website.
With files from The Canadian Press