Another 80 COVID-19 cases in B.C. as death toll reaches 200
VANCOUVER -- Health officials have announced another 80 cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia, as well as two more deaths from the coronavirus.
Thursday's update from deputy provincial health officer Dr. Reka Gustafson and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix brings the total number of infections identified locally since the start of the pandemic to 4,825.
The latest fatalities also bring the province's death toll to 200.
Gustafson said the most recent victims were both residents of long-term care homes in the Fraser Health region, which spans from Burnaby to Hope.
"Our sincere condolences to all those who have lost friends and loved ones during the COVID pandemic," she said.
British Columbia also saw a significant jump in COVID-19 recoveries, however, with 96 people being cleared of the disease since Wednesday's update.
That pushes the number of active cases in the province from 798 down to 780.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 also remains fairly stable, and low. Officials said there are 11 people in hospital as of Thursday, an increase of one from their previous update. That total includes four people in intensive care or critical care units.
But while much of the recent surge in cases has involved younger people in their 20s and 30s, Gustafson said officials are now "seeing a small increase" in infections involving people aged 40 to 60.
“We are carefully monitoring this trend, because we know that the risk of severe illness goes up with age," she added. "And the two new deaths in long-term care facilities of course reflect the vulnerability of this population to severe disease from COVID-19."
Officials also announced a new community outbreak at a Loblaws Inc. distribution centre in Surrey, where nine people have already tested positive.
"Fraser Health public health teams are on site managing this cluster," Gustafson said.
The health authority said the warehouse is operating at normal capacity, and noted there is "no demonstrated evidence" that COVID-19 is a foodborne illness.
In more positive news, Gustafson said all of the cases associated with the outbreak on Haida Gwaii are considered to be fully recovered.
The outbreak has not been declared over, however, and health teams are still monitoring for any new infections that may emerge.
Gustafson and Dix had no new outbreaks to report in health care facilities, though authorities are still battling eight existing outbreaks in long-term care homes and assisted living facilities, as well as one in an acute care unit.
As the cases surge in British Columbia, Dix noted the province is increasing its testing capacity, with increased staffing and expanded hours in several sites across the Lower Mainland.
A new testing centre has already opened in Vancouver, and others are coming to North Vancouver, Surrey and Fraser Northwest "in the coming weeks," Dix said.