Minister of Health Adrian Dix and deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson provide an update on COVID-19: Aug. 17, 2020 (Province of B.C. / Flickr)

B.C. health officials say 1,120 new cases of COVID-19 were found across the province over the weekend, marking a record-breaking reporting period between Saturday and Monday.

On Saturday, 352 cases were confirmed, on Sunday 389 cases were discovered and on Monday 379 people tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C. Each reporting period far exceeded the province’s previous highest daily COVID-19 count, which was 304 new cases set on Oct. 24.

B.C. has now seen a total of 15,501 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, including 90 people who are currently in hospital with the disease, 19 of whom require critical care.

Six more people also died of the virus over the weekend, said deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson, bringing B.C.’s death toll to 269. Five of the victims lived in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, and one lived in the Fraser Health region.

“We would like to extend our condolences to their families,” said Gustafson.

Over the weekend, nine new COVID-19 cases were reported in the Island Health region, bringing the health authority’s total to 265 since the pandemic began. Of those cases, 13 are considered currently active.

Across the province, 2,945 COVID-19 cases are considered active. An additional 6,448 people are under public health monitoring due to exposure to known coronavirus cases.

Three new health-care outbreaks were also reported over the weekend, all at long-term care or assisted living facilities. At the same time, one health-care outbreak was declared over, bringing the province’s total number of active health-care outbreaks to 28, including 26 at care homes and two at acute-care units.

No new community outbreaks were announced Monday, and one was declared over.

Health officials ask that British Columbians regularly check their local health authority website for updates on any community outbreaks or exposure events.

“These numbers are concerning for all of us,” said Gustafson. “But we have learned a great deal about COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.”

Despite the surge in cases, Gustafson says that transmission of COVID-19 remains at a manageable level in B.C.

She says that contact tracers are still able to reach out to people in a reasonable timeframe and that people with COVID-19 are largely able to trace the source of their transmission, which are both indicators that the pandemic has not reached an unmanageable level.

The deputy provincial health officer asked everyone to continue following provincial health guidelines, like limiting social circles to a safe consistent six, wearing non-medical masks when in indoor public spaces and staying home if feeling unwell.

“It’s not about stopping our lives, nor is it about being careless, it’s about learning how to do the things that are important to us safely,” said Gustafson.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix joined Gustafson Monday, echoing the deputy health officer’s advice.

He added that the health-care system was keeping up with need, with nearly 100 people currently in hospital due to COVID-19.

“Our acute care hospitals continue to manage well the (difficulties) of COVID-19,” he said. 

Dix added that he was disappointed to see large gatherings take place on Halloween, calling the parties “simply disgraceful.”

Most of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases have been found in the province’s Lower Mainland. Since the start of the pandemic, 9,049 cases have been found in the Fraser Health region and 4,898 have been recorded in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

Elsewhere in the province, the Island Health region has reported 265 COVID-19 cases, the Interior Health region has confirmed 777 and the Northern Health region has diagnosed 422. Ninety people who live outside of Canada have tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C.