B.C. sets another daily record with 425 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed
No new deaths have been reported, but there are 3,389 active cases of disease caused by the novel coronavirus
A record high of 425 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in B.C., with most of the cases located in the Fraser Health region.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Thursday that there have been no new deaths, but the number of active cases, now at 3,389, has risen to its highest total to date. That includes 97 patients who are in hospital, including 24 in intensive care.
Of the new cases announced Thursday, 268 or about 63 per cent are located in the Fraser Health region, which has become the epicentre of the second wave of B.C.'s COVID-19 pandemic. Another 126 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
Henry said she shares everyone's concern about the province's surging caseload.
"We did anticipate an increase as we moved indoors into the cooler weather. It is incredibly important we manage this increase effectively," she said.
"I'm asking you once again to slow the spread of the virus through B.C."
Watch | Henry says a large percentage of essential workers live in the Fraser Health region, which is leading new cases in B.C.:
She said individual responsibility is key. It's possible for an infected person to spread the virus, even if they're not feeling ill, and that can have a ripple effect, causing spread to vulnerable populations like people living in long-term care.
Henry added that at the moment, the health-care system has adequate resources to handle COVID-19 cases and there's no immediate need to cancel scheduled non-elective surgeries as happened in the spring, but the situation is being watched closely. There's particular concern about what happens if health-care workers begin falling ill and have to isolate at home.
Thursday's update also included two new outbreaks in the health-care system. There are now 28 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living, and two in acute care units of hospitals.
At the same time, the outbreak at École de l'Anse-au-sable in Kelowna is officially over.
To date, B.C. has confirmed 16,560 cases of the virus and 273 people have died. A total of 7,519 people are currently under active monitoring by public health workers because of COVID-19 exposure.
Thursday's numbers are based on 11,020 tests conducted over the last 24 hours, giving a provincewide test-positive rate of 3.8 per cent. Henry said that rate is "a rise from what we have been seeing in the last few weeks."
In September, Henry told reporters that a test positive rate above five per cent would indicate "transmission in the community that is concerning." The number was as high as seven per cent in the early days of the pandemic and less than one per cent for most of June. By the end of September it was slightly below two per cent.
'Don't throw. Don't go. Say no.'
Health Minister Adrian Dix stressed the importance of the public health order limiting indoor gatherings in people's homes to household members and the "safe six" people in their bubble.
He said that when it comes to house parties, "Don't throw. Don't go. Say no."
The public health orders in place concerning gatherings will remain in place, Henry said, and B.C. officials will continue to watch the data and adapt as the pandemic evolves.
Dix also provided an update on B.C.'s efforts to recruit contact tracers, saying 580 people have been hired to follow up on chains of COVID-19 transmission. The province has now set a target 800 total hires.
As the Fraser Health numbers continue to rise, some parents in the region are calling for more information about COVID-19 exposures in schools. A so-called "superspreader" event at the Capella Dance Academy in Chilliwack has been connected to 38 cases and 13 schools as of Wednesday.
With files from Roshini Nair