British Columbia health officials announced that they’ve identified 269 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend. That includes 109 daily cases that were identified in the 24-hour stretch between Friday and Saturday, which is a record-high one-day spike.
The latest update also increases the province’s active case count to 913, surpassing its previous record-high of 824, which was set on Friday. British Columbia has seen its active cases rise on an upward trajectory as of late, considering there were 295 active cases in the province on July 24, and 162 on June 24.
The recently identified cases are part of a concerning trend. The province has now reported at least 70 cases on 11 of the last 13 occasions. Before the recent stretch, the last time the province had recorded at least 70 cases was on April 25.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the recent spike in cases is partially the result of revamped testing efforts involving known contacts of previously identified patients. As of late, labs have been processing 4,000-5,000 tests a day, which has resulted in a “relatively low” positivity rate, despite high daily case numbers.
However, private gatherings such as indoor parties continue to be a problem, especially among young people. After updating their fining system on Friday, B.C. law enforcement imposed several $2,300 fines to party organizers over the course of the weekend, according to CBC.
Henry and health minister Adrian Dix both said that they don’t plan on easing restrictions, which are currently capped at 50-people for both indoor and outdoor gatherings. They also don’t believe that shutting down banquet halls, restaurants and bars will help limit the spread. Instead, when restrictions are in place, they can provide a safe space to socialize.
“We do know that if we just shut things down — and we’ve seen that happen in other countries around the world — that [gatherings] do tend to go underground, where they are less controlled,” said Henry. “They can cause more challenges, more difficulties, and people are less likely to report if they’re feeling ill.”
Exposures due to gatherings have been a key concern for B.C. ever since two hotel parties around Canada Day in Kelowna led to dozens of cases around the province, as well as possible exposure warnings for a variety of businesses. Officials continue to ask B.C. residents to check the growing list of public exposure warnings as part of contact tracing efforts. Currently in B.C., there are 2,594 people who are self-isolating and are being actively monitored by public health, since they were in contact with a known COVID-19 patient.
Along with the 109 cases that were identified between Friday and Saturday, there were 81 new cases between Saturday and Sunday, and 79 between Sunday and Monday. B.C. health officials also announced one more person has died over the weekend, involving a long-term care resident in the Fraser Health region. One more LTC outbreak was also declared in that same region, increasing the number of health-care outbreaks around B.C. to 10. In positive news, the Fraser Valley Packers outbreak has been declared over.
Throughout the pandemic, there have been 5,184 cases in British Columbia. That includes 4,068 who have fully recovered and 203 fatalities.