4 more die of COVID-19 in B.C. as 366 new cases found

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Four more people have died of COVID-19 in British Columbia as health officials identified another 366 new cases of the virus over the weekend.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday that 121 of the new cases were diagnosed between Friday and Saturday; 117 cases were found between Saturday and Sunday, and 128 cases were found between Sunday and Monday.

The new cases bring the provincial total to 8,208 confirmed cases of the virus since the pandemic began.

The four deaths over the weekend bring the death toll from the virus in B.C. to 227. Two of the four deaths occurred in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, while one was in the Fraser Health region and the other was in Northern Health.

There are currently 1,987 active cases of the virus across the province, a record high during the pandemic. Of those active cases, 60 people are in hospital, including 21 in critical or intensive care.

The provincial health officer announced one new COVID-19 outbreak at a Vancouver health-care facility, though the outbreak is limited so far to a single case. There are now more than a dozen outbreaks in the province's health-care system, including 12 in long-term care or assisted living facilities and one in an acute-care centre.

There were no new community outbreaks reported Monday, though Henry warned that public exposure to the virus continues to occur, including in newly reopened schools.

"We've had a number of exposures in a number of different school settings," the provincial health officer announced. "They're mostly very low-risk, which is what we would expect. We have had no clusters, no transmission events and no outbreaks at this point."

Henry stressed that B.C. Premier John Horgan did not seek her counsel before his decision to call a snap election earlier Monday, saying her job must remain outside any such political considerations.

"Premier Horgan did not ask for my advice around calling an election and nor would I expect him to," the health officer said, adding the public health effort she is leading will continue uninterrupted during the campaign period.

"I was not asked for advice on timing of an election and that is part of the political process that I am not a part of," she said.

Health Minister Adrian Dix will no longer accompany Henry for B.C.'s daily COVID-19 briefings now that the election campaign is underway, though Henry said he will remain involved in managing the pandemic response.  

Most COVID-19 cases in B.C. have been identified in the province’s Lower Mainland, with 2,945 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 4,211 confirmed in the Fraser Health region.

The Island Health region has recorded 203 cases since the pandemic began. Elsewhere in the province, the Interior Health region has reported 508 cases while the Northern Health region has confirmed 255.

Health officials say that 86 people who live outside Canada have tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

Officials have put 3,233 people under public health monitoring due to possible exposures to known cases of the virus. Meanwhile, 5,972 people who contracted the virus have now recovered.