The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island remained unchanged at 79 on Tuesday — which is the way provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry would like it to stay over the upcoming long weekend and a number of religious celebrations.
There were 25 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province over a 24-hour period, said Henry, but no new confirmed cases on the Island.
Starting today and over the next few weeks, several important religious dates are celebrated around the world by many faiths. As well, it’s a weekend when some typically visit family and travel to holiday homes, she said.
“I’m really imploring people: This is not our time to do that right now,” she said. “We need to avoid all non-essential travel and it’s important we don’t go to communities where [they] might not have the resources to support us.”
Health Minister Adrian Dix recommended against any small in-person gatherings, especially indoors, noting there is some evidence that provincial orders to physically distance and other measures are having an effect on “flattening the curve” when it comes to new cases.
“So let’s bend the curve, not bend the rules this weekend,” said Dix.
The provincial health officer’s order prohibits groups of over 50, but Henry said “coming together of even small groups can be very problematic.” Individuals within the group must still maintain a distance of two metres if not they’re household contacts.
“We can still celebrate and care for those around us, in virtual ways,” Henry said. “We’ll be celebrating collectively around the world in ways we’ve never done before.”
B.C. has had a total of 1,291 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 805 people are considered to be fully recovered.
There have been 79 cases on Vancouver Island, 603 cases in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 458 in the Fraser Health region, 125 in Interior Health and 23 in Northern Health.
Four additional deaths — three in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and one in Fraser Health — were reported Tuesday, bringing the total in B.C. to 43.
There are 138 people in hospital, including 66 in intensive care or critical-care units. Eleven people who have tested positive for COVID-19 on the Island are in hospital.
Not everyone who might have COVID-19 is tested. Guidelines from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control limit testing to people who are hospitalized or likely to be hospitalized, health-care workers, residents in long-term care, and people who are part of an investigation for a cluster outbreak. That mean there could be more cases of COVID-19 in the province than what has been confirmed by tests.