VANCOUVER -- The number of serious COVID-19 infections appears to be growing much more slowly in British Columbia than Ontario and Quebec, giving health officials reason to hope the severe restrictions imposed on public life weeks ago are working.

While it's currently impossible to compare the overall number of infections in the provinces, as many people with mild symptoms are never tested and therefore never added to the "test-positive" total, there is one figure that B.C. health officials are confident is accurate: cases requiring hospitalization.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Thursday there are 149 COVID-19 patients in hospital across B.C., up seven from the day before.

That number represents many more anxious family members and friends who are rooting for them to recover from the virus.

It's also relatively low compared to Ontario and Quebec, whose total number of hospitalizations increased Thursday by 73 and 58, respectively, up to 405 and 365.

Asked about the relative success officials are seeing in B.C., Dr. Henry credited the "quite stringent restrictions" that were set in place in March, including physical distancing requirements and the forced closure of many non-essential businesses, from bars to salons.

"This is our flattening of our curve," she added. "We are hopeful that that will continue, but we can't take our foot off the pedal yet."

And despite the optimistic numbers, there have already been tragedies for dozens of B.C. families. Officials sombrely announced another six fatalities related to COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 31 and marking the deadliest day yet in the province's fight against the virus.

Of the people currently in hospital, 68 remain in intensive care. There are also 167 patients in intensive care in Ontario, and another 96 in Quebec.


Henry said if the general public continues to stay home, avoid unnecessary travel and keep physical distance from everyone they don't live with, it will help ensure that hospitals don’t get overwhelmed like they have elsewhere around the world.

"We're now at the point where people who need hospital care are getting it," she said. "We are hopeful it will continue to be a slow, steady pace and we'll be able to manage it and care for everybody that needs it, both for COVID-19 and everybody else who needs our health care system at this point."

British Columbia added another 55 test-positive cases on Thursday, while Quebec's total jumped by 907 and Ontario's by 401. B.C. has had 1,121 confirmed cases since the first COVID-19 patient was discovered back on Jan. 28, and more than half of those – 641 – have already fully recovered.

Subtracting the patients who are back in good health, and the 31 people who have lost their lives to the virus, there are 449 active test-positive cases of COVID-19 in B.C.

Over the last several days, the number of recoveries has more or less balanced the number of new test-positive cases, with active cases showing a slight decline since B.C. hit its peak of 525 on March 26.