Another 83 COVID-19 infections in B.C. as province sets new caseload record
VANCOUVER -- Health officials have identified another 83 cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia, pushing the province's caseload to a new record high.
Tuesday's update from deputy provincial health officer Dr. Reka Gustafson and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix brings the total number of cases recorded locally since the start of the pandemic to 4,677.
And while 51 people have also recovered from the virus since officials' last briefing on Monday, the new infections still caused B.C.'s active case count to surge to 775.
That's more infections than the province experienced during the alarming first wave of COVID-19 back in March and April.
The number of people sick enough to require hospitalization remains low, but Gustafson and Dix noted there still remains a very real danger that young and healthy people can unwittingly spread the coronavirus to older and more vulnerable residents – including members of their own families.
"Seeing friends may seem safe, but if you are in close contact with an elderly family member, your visit may inadvertently put them at risk," they said in a joint written statement.
"Let's use our layers of protection, giving ourselves and those around us the space to stay safe no matter what we are doing or where we may be. This is how we protect our communities and stay strong."
Officials said there are currently six people in hospital with COVID-19, an increase of two from Monday. Three of them are in intensive care or critical care units.
By comparison, four months ago, there were upwards of 100 people in hospital and more than 50 in intensive care. Health officials have said the hospitalization rate is one of the most important metrics for measuring the severity of the pandemic in B.C.
But the rapidly increasing caseload has still generated significant alarm from the public.
Whereas B.C. was regularly reporting updates in the single digits in June and early July, there has been an average of 80 new cases per day for the last week.
And as cases rise, so does the number of people forced into self-isolation because of potential exposure to the virus. Officials said there are currently 2,326 people under "active public health monitoring" across the province.
Because the virus can even be spread by people with very mild symptoms, Gustafson and Dix said everyone in B.C. must take quarantine seriously.
"It is essential that anyone advised to self-isolate stays home, and stays away from others, for the full 14-day period," they said.
The surge has also put renewed focus on the crucial work of contact-tracing teams, who rush in response to every identified case in order to mitigate further transmission. B.C. recently announced it was hiring another 500 health professionals to aid in that effort heading into the fall.
There were no new deaths or outbreaks reported on Tuesday, leaving the province's death toll at 198. A total of 3,704 people who have caught COVID-19 in B.C. have recovered.