COVID-19 update: B.C. adds 84 cases, 2 deaths since Wednesday

A used protective face mask is seen discarded on the ground in Vancouver in May 2020. (Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

British Columbia has recorded another 84 cases of COVID-19 and two related deaths since Tuesday afternoon, health officials said in their last pandemic update of the week.

The province has now identified a total of 147,705 coronavirus infections and suffered 1,756 related fatalities since the start of the crisis.

B.C.'s active caseload has fallen to 729 – the lowest it's been since Aug. 15 – while the number of patients battling COVID-19 in hospital has dropped to 99, which includes 30 patients in intensive care.

Meanwhile, the province's rolling seven-day average for new cases dropped to 43, which is roughly four per cent of the all-time high of 1,130 recorded back in April.

While the COVID-19 situation in B.C. has been improving consistently for weeks, officials noted the province is now also grappling with a dangerous heat wave and worsening wildfire situation.

In a joint written statement, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix urged the public to protect themselves over the coming days and weeks.

"We are already seeing signs of a difficult wildfire season ahead for our communities. Wildfire smoke can affect your health, especially for those who are more vulnerable, including seniors, young children, those with pre-existing chronic health conditions and people who are pregnant," they said.

"Please remember to reach out to family, friends or neighbours who may need a helping hand in the weeks to come. And remember to take care of yourself by staying hydrated and cool as temperatures rise."

Earlier in the day, Henry was asked about concerns about COVID-19 spreading at evacuation centres as hundreds of people seek refuge from encroaching wildfires, as well as the blaze that devastated the community of Lytton.

She said public health teams have been dispatched to the centres to ensure evacuees who are concerned they might have COVID-19 can get tested.

"Thankfully, we are at a place where the rates of transmission in our communities, even in the Interior .. are low enough that that's not the primary concern," Henry said.

"The primary concern is making sure people have a safe place to stay."

On Thursday, the province entered Step 3 of its COVID-19 restart plan, relaxing several restrictions and replacing the mask mandate with a mask recommendation aimed at people age 12 and up who are not fully immunized with the protection of two doses of vaccine.

The declining transmission that allowed the government to relax rules has been largely credited on widespread vaccine uptake. As of Friday, B.C. has administered 5,124,693 doses of vaccine, including enough first doses to cover nearly 79 per cent of adults.

So far, 1,526,711 people – or about 35 per cent of B.C. adults – have received both shots.