B.C. reports 9 coronavirus deaths, almost 2,000 new cases over record-breaking weekend
VANCOUVER -- Nine people died from COVID-19 in British Columbia over the weekend as the province broke several more records related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Another 1,959 new COVID-19 cases were also identified from Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced at her first briefing of the week. That puts the total number of infections identified in B.C. since the start of the pandemic at 22,944.
The province's active caseload reached a new record of 6,279, and the number of coronavirus patients in hospital climbed to a new high of 181, including 57 people in intensive care.
Of the nearly 2,000 new infections, 654 were identified from Friday to Saturday, followed by 659 from Saturday to Sunday and 646 from Sunday to Monday. Each day surpassed the province's previous record of 617 cases identified over 24 hours, which was set just last week.
"As the number of cases and outbreaks is showing, we are in the most challenging of times," Henry said. "The virus is not stopping."
Another 11 outbreaks were also declared in B.C.'s health-care system over the weekend, at long-term care homes, assisted living facilities and one hospital. Most were detected in the Lower Mainland, but some were in the Interior Health region as well.
The alarming numbers came a week after Henry announced strict-but-temporary new restrictions around socializing in the province's Lower Mainland, a measure intended to curb the caseload before it spirals out of control.
She said if hospitals, schools and workplaces are to remain open, it's crucial that people follow the precautions that officials have hammered for weeks.
"It is the small yet essential efforts that all of us do that have a big collective impact," Henry said. "We need to say no to social gatherings right now. We also need to minimize our travel, maintain our safe distances as best we can at all times, and use masks."
The challenges facing B.C. are also being seen in several other provinces, where rising case numbers helped push Canada past 300,000 total COVID-19 cases on Monday.
Henry reiterated the need to follow her latest public health order, which is scheduled to expire on Nov. 23. That order requires that people in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley only socialize with people in their "core bubble," which for most means others in their household, and to avoid travelling between health authority regions except for essential purposes.
But Henry also went a step further on Monday, asking people across the province to "limit your travel as much as possible."
"We know that the virus comes with us, and when we travel, we bring that risk with us and we take home the risk from where we've been," she said.
"Now is not the time to travel for recreation or non-essential purposes."
Because of the coronavirus's incubation period, which can last up to two weeks, people's behaviour now could impact how families across B.C. are permitted to observe the upcoming holidays. Celebrations of Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, were severely curtailed over the weekend as a result of Henry's public health order.
Henry said it's too soon to determine how Christmas will look in the province.
With temperatures dropping, much of the recent surge in cases has been linked to private gatherings inside people's homes and in businesses where workers aren't maintaining proper distance from one another.
Last week, health officials shared updated modelling data that highlights the need for everyone in B.C. to be on their best behaviour. The numbers indicate the province has been doubling its number of daily cases every 13 days, which could send numbers skyrocketing to upwards of 1,000 new infections per day soon if B.C. can't buck the trend.