B.C. adds 20 COVID-19 cases, no additional deaths
VANCOUVER -- Health officials announced another 20 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, but said there have been no additional deaths since their last update.
Thursday's briefing from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix brings the total number of cases identified locally since the start of the pandemic to 3,028.
The death toll, which increased by three on Wednesday, remains at 186.
While the province's caseload has remained low for several weeks, Henry urged the public not to become complacent.
"I know some people may be thinking this is all over and they can relax and go back to normal, but until effective treatment or a vaccine is available, we know that this virus is going to circulate in our communities," she said.
"We've seen elsewhere around the world, including in the United States and other places, that things can quickly escalate once again if we let our guard down too far."
Officials said only seven people have recovered from the virus since their last update, bringing the province's total number of recoveries to 2,667.
That leaves 175 active cases, with 17 patients in hospital, including four in intensive care.
Beginning on Thursday, health officials also started disclosing the number of infections in B.C.'s overall case count that involve or involved non-residents of Canada, including temporary foreign workers and visitors who became ill during their stay. There have been 51 such cases so far.
Henry and Dix had no new outbreaks to report in health care facilities or the community, but said officials are still responding to a number of "exposure events," including the recent one at the No5 Orange strip club in Vancouver.
Henry said each new exposure and outbreak can help officials adjust their approach to combatting the spread of the virus.
"As our understanding grows, we'll continue to adjust our guidelines as we have been doing for restaurants and we will now be doing around exposures we've had in nightclubs," she added.
"We're going to review those guidance to make sure that we have protection in place for employees as well as customers in these locations."
Minister Dix also took a moment to acknowledge the surgeons and health-care workers who have helped ramp up surgeries in the province, which were severely limited for the first few months of the pandemic.
A total of 40,742 surgeries have been completed since B.C. allowed elective surgeries to resume on May 18. Of those, 31,110 were scheduled and 9,632 were unscheduled.
"I want to express my gratitude to everybody who's delivering on the surgical renewal commitment, and the work we're all doing to stop the spread that's making it possible. This is your success and their success as well," Dix said.
Officials also revealed they are hoping to share new data on antibody testing in the province next week, possibly on Thursday.
Henry said collecting the data has been difficult because the rate of false-positive and false-negative results can be "very high," but that they are performing secondary validation tests to weed out false-positives.
"The bottom line, from what I've seen so far, is that (the data) reflects what we have seen here in British Columbia – that few people have become infected at a population level," Henry said.
Watch an American Sign Language translation of the news conference on the provincial government's YouTube page.