Health officials have confirmed another 145 cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia, which includes infections at two more seniors’ homes in the province.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the new cases during her daily virus briefing Tuesday, but added that another 73 COVID-19 patients have also recovered.
That brings the total number of recoveries to 173 out of 617 infections in British Columbia.
“That’s 28 per cent of our total cases, and I think that’s a really positive thing,” Dr. Henry told reporters. “It shows us that most people – particularly young, healthy people who have milder illness – are able to be managed at home and are recovering from this.”
Officials also pointed to international research suggesting that people who recover have an immunity to the virus. Dr. Henry said previous patients appear to be safe for a “few weeks to months,” at least.
The provincial health officer noted the large jump in cases announced Tuesday covers almost two days worth of testing, since Monday’s virus briefing was held hours earlier than usual.
Henry said 67 of the new cases were tested from Sunday afternoon to Monday afternoon, and another 78 were tested from Monday afternoon into Tuesday.
The provincial death toll related to the virus also remains static at 13.
But COVID-19 has now spread to another two care homes in the Lower Mainland: Little Mountain Place Residential Care & Housing Society in Vancouver and the Evergreen Heights assisted living facility in White Rock.
At this point, officials said just one staff member at Little Mountain and one resident at Evergreen Heights have been confirmed to be carrying the virus.
“The outbreak protocols are being implemented at both those facilities and continue at the other long-term care and assisted living facilities where we have identified outbreaks,” Henry said.
That brings the number of outbreaks at long-term care homes and assisted living facilities up to eight. The most serious remains the ongoing situation at Lynn Valley Care Centre, where 42 residents and 21 staff have been infected.
Henry said the care home outbreaks highlight the serious problem of having staff members working at multiple facilities at once, potentially carrying COVID-19 to different locations across the region – an issue she said officials hope to have resolved by the end of the week.
“We are doing a concerted effort across the province to now sort that out so we can assign people to a specific long-term care home, particularly through this pandemic, and that is something that is being undertaken as an urgent issue,” Henry said.
Of the hundreds of ongoing COVID-19 cases in B.C., 59 patients are currently in hospital, including 23 who are intensive care.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province is continuing its work getting hospital beds ready for the influx of new patients that are expected as the pandemic continues, and said there are currently 3,866 beds available.
He also noted the province’s aggressive testing strategy is ongoing, with some 3,500 tests now being performed daily. B.C. has administered nearly 30,000 tests since the first confirmed COVID-19 case back in January.
Officials hope the school and bar closures, physical distancing requirements and other precautionary measures recently imposed across B.C. will eventually help curb the number of new infections in the province, but there is currently no official estimate for how long they might need to be in place.
Dix said the long-term outcome of the province’s fight against the virus will depend on how vigilant people are today.
“There is no chance we beat this if we leave the work to others,” the minister said. “The number of cases we’ve been seeing will continue to rise, it will. The next few weeks will be very, very difficult. It