British Columbia has hit a new record for the number of new COVID-19 cases confirmed in one day in the province, posting 139 on Thursday.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said these new cases bring the number of active cases of infection to a new high of 1,412 out of 6,830 confirmed since the pandemic began.
The number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 has risen to 42, an increase of 10 since Tuesday and the highest number in B.C. since May 21. There are currently 14 people in intensive care.
Thursday marked the gradual return to school for many B.C. children, and Henry tried to reassure families who might be feeling anxious, saying that schools have made it through measles and meningitis outbreaks, and they will make it through COVID-19 as well.
“I think it is important to recognize all the work done by educators, principals, parents to get schools ready this year,” she said. “We will all be learning over the next few weeks.”
However, acknowledging there will be transmission in schools, Henry said local health officials will make sure that everyone affected is notified.
It’s possible that some learning cohorts will have to be sent home and some individual schools might be closed, but Henry said she doesn’t expect a system-wide shutdown.
There have been no new deaths from the novel coronavirus in B.C., leaving the total deaths to date at 213.
There are currently 13 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted-living facilities and three in acute-care units of hospitals.
‘Everybody’s tired of COVID-19’
As the COVID-19 caseload continues to rise with no signs of the curve of infection flattening, Henry urged everyone to play it safe and stick to reliable sources for information about the virus, such as the BC Centre for Disease Control.
“Let’s all make those right choices that will help keep cases low and continue to allow us to engage in important social and economic activities that we need,” she said.
Health Minister Adrian Dix echoed that advice, saying that while everyone is tired of restrictions related to the pandemic, large gatherings need to stop.
“We’re tired, everybody’s tired of COVID-19. We’re already tired and there’s a long way to go,” he said.
The rule of thumb should be to “stick to six” — the same six people — for any get-together, especially when it’s taking place inside, Dix said.
“Each one of us probably has a list of things we can’t do that we’d like to do again. It’s not forever, even if it feels like it — it’s for now,” he said.
As Sept. 21 approaches, and Canadian and U.S. officials consider whether to extend the border closure for non-essential travellers, Henry said she would like to see more flexibility for families who need to travel between the two countries to see loved ones.
But she said she would not support a complete reopening of the Canada-U.S. border.
“We still believe that visiting for recreational reasons is very risky right now and would advocate to keep the border closed,” she said.
Meanwhile, Henry said that health officials around the world are still learning about the long-term health effects of COVID-19.
She said there has been an increase in cases in younger people, who tend to have mild symptoms, but later there can be an impact on the heart, blood vessels and lungs, as well as profound fatigue that can last for many months.
It’s been “extremely challenging” for some people who fell ill in March and still haven’t been able to return to normal activity, Henry said.
Doctors aren’t able to say whether these effects will last or if they will gradually improve.