Six more people have died from COVID-19 in B.C., the province announced on Monday.
All six deaths involved people at long-term care homes in the Lower Mainland. Five deaths occurred over the weekend and a sixth death involved a person from the Langley Lodge who passed away in June and whose subsequent death and review has been attributed to COVID-19, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
There have now been 183 people in B.C. who have died from COVID-19.
An additional 31 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in B.C. over the past 72 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in B.C. to 2,978.
One more case was reported in the Interior Health region since Friday, bringing to three the number of active cases in the health authority, a region of more than 215,000 square kilometres, with about 800,000 people.
There are 166 confirmed active cases of COVID-19 provincewide, up from the 162 active cases reported on Friday. There are 16 people in hospital, all in the Lower Mainland, four of whom are in intensive-care units.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,570 cases of COVID-19 in Fraser Health, 1,008 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 203 cases in Interior Health, 132 cases in Island Health and 65 cases in Northern Health.
No new cases were reported on Vancouver Island or in Northern Health.
There have been no new outbreaks recorded in the health-care system. Four facilities have active outbreaks, three in long-term care homes and one in a hospital acute-care ward. None are in Interior Health. There were 11 new cases reported in those facilities, including two amongst residents. In total, 393 residents and 246 staff are infected with COVID-19.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said those cases in hospital in Fraser Health are part of an outbreak at Mission Memorial Hospital.
There are 2,629 people now fully recovered from COVID-19, up from 2,608 people as of Friday.
Henry said many of B.C.’s latest cases have come by way of people who have recently travelled to the U.S. or been in contact with someone from south of the border.
“It is a worry. We know there’s quite a bit of travel across the border, but nothing like we usually see,” Henry said, adding that she cannot see vacation travel from the U.S. being allowed to occur this summer, given the current state of the pandemic in America.
Asked if B.C. has seen any links following large anti-racism protests in B.C., which hasn’t been the case according to a report out of Seattle, Henry said the short answer is no.
“Currently, we do not have any cases that have been associated with the protests that took place,” Henry said, noting public health follows up on all reported cases.
She said her colleagues in the U.S. haven’t noticed any surges related to protests, which she said is likely due to the fact the demonstrations are outdoors, with people next to each other for shorter periods time, while wearing masks and practising physical distancing.
Henry said where they have seen transmission outdoors in the U.S. is among people spending time in large groups on beaches.
“There’s something inherently different about what you’re doing with a group of people partying on a beach versus what we’ve been seeing with some of these protests,” she said.
Henry said that was surprising as she thought the risk factor would be relatively the same, but she believes beach parties involve people spending more time face-to-face in a more intimate setting.
Asked how concerned she was that deaths are now only occurring in care homes at time when visitations are being eased, Henry said community transmission has been reduced to the point that it’s believed more visitation can be allowed. However, she said, British Columbians must remain vigilant with physical-distancing measures in place to ensure that risk remains low.