British Columbia

Death toll from COVID-19 in B.C. reaches 200, as case numbers continue to surge

B.C. health officials announced Thursday that the death toll from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus in B.C. had reached 200, as they confirmed another 80 cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths.

Officials announce 80 new confirmed cases and 2 more deaths from the disease

B.C. health officials reported Thursday that the province had reached the grim milestone of 200 deaths in its fight against COVID-19. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Health officials announced Thursday that the death toll from COVID-19 in B.C. had reached 200, as they confirmed another 80 cases of the disease and two more deaths.

Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Réka Gustafson gave Thursday's update, also revealing that the current number of active cases of infection with the novel coronavirus has fallen slightly from its peak to 780.

There are currently 11 people in hospital, including four in intensive care, a slight increase from a day earlier.

Health Minister Adrian Dix spoke to the continuing swell of cases and acknowledged the frustration that some people may be feeling.

"In a pandemic we have choices …. We can give up or we can fight. It's that simple and that hard," Dix said, quoting Dr. Michael Ryan of the World Health Organization.

"We can look at our recent case numbers and say, do we still fight? And I think we do."

Tell us what you think!

Help shape the future of CBC article pages by taking a quick survey.

Thursday's daily update includes one new community outbreak at a Loblaws distribution centre in Surrey, where nine staff members have tested positive to date. Fraser Health says it is screening all employees at the warehouse.

A total of 2,475 people across the province with possible exposure to the virus are currently being monitored to see if they develop symptoms. There have been 4,825 known cases to date.

Gustafson once again stressed the importance of avoiding large gatherings — especially when they are indoors and involve alcohol.

"By continuing to work together, we can get through this. I'd like to thank you again for what you are all doing," she said.

She also acknowledged that people in some parts of the province are now having to deal with evacuations because of wildfires.

"COVID-19 brings an extra added complexity to that, especially if you have to self-isolate, especially if you're at risk for severe disease. I can only imagine how hard that must be," Gustafson said, adding that public health officials are working with emergency teams to manage the situation safely.

Pandemic has lasted 'a long time'

Dix pointed out that next week marks seven months since he began giving public briefings on COVID-19.

"It's a long time to stay 100 per cent all in," he said.

He said it's important to take the long view during a pandemic, but not to forget the short view as well, which means remembering to take precautions this weekend and to keep your social bubbles small.

The majority of new cases continue to be in younger people, though Thursday's update includes a small increase in people between the ages of 40 and 60.

With the spike in new cases, health officials said they are working to increase testing capacity. Health authorities across the province now have the ability to test up to 8,000 people a day.

More than 4,000 tests were completed in the last 24 hours, Dix said Thursday, and currently just under two per cent of tests are positive.

The province's goal is to be able to perform as many as 20,000 tests a day in the fall, when cold and flu season begins. B.C. recommends testing of anyone who has symptoms — even if those symptoms are mild.

With files from Roshini Nair