Hospitalizations begin to inch up as B.C. announces 68 new cases of COVID-19
As of Wednesday, there are 798 active cases with 10 people in hospital
Hospitalizations are beginning to rise again as the province announced 68 new cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus on Wednesday but no new deaths.
Ten people are now in hospital, up from a low of four on Monday. Of those, four are in intensive care.
The latest figures released in a written statement from Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Réka Gustafson and Health Minister Adrian Dix bring the total number of active cases, people that are currently infected, in the province to 798, the highest tally to date.
In total, B.C. has seen 4,745 confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus and 198 deaths.
In Wednesday's update, health officials said they are working to increase testing capacity, and health authorities across the province now have the ability to test up to 8,000 people a day. New testing centres and extended hours of service have been added to address high demand in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions.
"We know as the number of new cases increases, demand for testing also goes up," Dix and Gustafson said.
"Testing allows us to trace and contain the spread. The tests tell us who is positive for the virus, as well as how far the virus may have spread among close contacts when an outbreak or community cluster occurs."
Anyone with symptoms of the virus can now be tested, and officials recommend that anyone who is feeling ill should isolate from others to prevent transmission.
Active case count continues rising
There has been a surge in new COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks — a stark contrast to B.C.'s earlier success at flattening infection rates. The province is now reporting the largest number of active cases since the pandemic began, and on Saturday announced 100 new cases — its highest one-day total.
Before this week, the number of patients in hospital had been falling as the overall caseload continued to rise, but trends in hospitalizations and deaths tend to lag behind cases.
The spike in cases has largely been driven by infections in people between the ages of 20 and 40, and there have been numerous large gatherings linked to transmission of the disease.
Dix and Gustafson have urged everyone to stick to small gatherings with people within a defined social bubble and to avoid prolonged encounters with large groups, especially indoors.
"While those who are younger are less likely to face severe illness, it is easy to inadvertently pass the virus on to someone who may be only a few years older, but much more vulnerable," they said in Wednesday's statement.
"As a result, the best thing we can do is to protect ourselves and those we care about most by assessing the risks before we spend time with others and always using our layers of protection."
As of Wednesday, there were active outbreaks in eight long-term care or assisted-living facilities and in one acute-care unit of a hospital.
On Tuesday, the province extended its state of emergency. B.C. has been in a state of emergency since the first one was declared March 18.
With files from Roshini Nair