B.C. reports 21 more deaths, 673 new cases


British Columbia has recorded another 21 deaths from COVID-19 and 673 new infections, health officials announced Thursday.

The update brings the province's death toll to 713, and the total number of cases identified since the start of the pandemic to 44,776.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said most of the latest fatalities involved seniors living in long-term care.

"My condolences go to the families, to the care providers and to communities. We feel your loss, particularly at this time of year and this time in our pandemic," Henry said.

B.C.'s active caseload increased slightly to 10,009, which includes 358 patients in hospital. Of those, 94 people are intensive care or critical care units – a new record for the province.

Another 10,388 people across B.C. are under active health monitoring after being in contact with a known case of COVID-19. Of all the province's test-positive cases, 73 per cent – or 32,963 people – have recovered.

As B.C. continues recording an average of about 675 cases per day, Henry said the province is updating its guidance around testing to ensure that "people who most need to get a test right away realize that and do that."

"We also recognize that, for some people, it might be OK to stay away from others and to wait and see if you need a test," Henry added.

The majority of test-positive cases in the province are directly connected to a confirmed infection, a cluster or an outbreak, according to health officials. Anyone in one of those situations who shows any symptoms at all should get tested immediately, Henry said.

People who haven't been exposed to a known case of COVID-19 but have mild symptoms can still get tested, officials said, but they should do so urgently if they experience one of the four symptoms most commonly associated with the disease. Those are fever or chills, a cough, loss of sense of smell or taste, and difficulty breathing.

People who experience a sore throat, loss of appetite, fatigue, body aches, nausea and diarrhea – symptoms also associated with seasonal flus and colds – can take a wait-and-see approach if they haven't knowingly been exposed to the coronavirus, Henry said. Those people are still welcoem to go in for a test.

- With files from CTV News -