One more person has succumbed to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, B.C. Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry revealed Tuesday (June 23).
The pandemic victim, the 170th person in B.C. to die after contracting the coronavirus, was a resident of a long-term care facility in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
The province also reported 13 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed since the last update a day earlier, bringing the total number of cases to 2,835.
Sixteen people are currently in hospital as a result of COVID-19, seven of whom are in critical care.
There are 174 active cases in the province, while a total of 2,491 British Columbians have fully recovered from COVID-19.
Of the total cases in the province, 960 have been in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,480 in the Fraser Health, 131 in the Island Health region, 199 in the Interior Health region and 65 in the Northern Health region.
No new community outbreaks were reported in the last 24 hours.
While the West Coast approaches phase three of its economic restart, B.C. Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said residents would need to adopt at-home health practices, such as physical distancing, for when they start hitting the road and travelling for holidays.
She could not say for certain whether it was likely British Columbians would be able to travel south of the border at any point in 2020.
“We’re going to have to, for some time, continue to hold the line on visitors to and from Washington state,” B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said.
Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee earlier in the day issued an order that face masks be worn in public as part of an effort to fight COVID-19.
There are 28,870 confirmed cases in Washington state — about 10 times the number in B.C.
“It’s very concerning watching what’s going on in Washington,” Henry said.
But she said it’s unlikely essential travel over the border will lead to an increase in cases in this province, noting such travel has been taking place since the pandemic began to unfold.
“I don’t see it as affecting us,” Henry said, adding workers travelling across the border have been self-monitoring and taking steps to avoid the possibility of transmission.
Epidemiological modelling released by the province Tuesday reveals contacts between British Columbians are at 65% of normal rates.
The higher the percentage, the greater probability of COVID-19 spreading as people return to work, shop at stores, dine at restaurants or visit friends and family.
The West Coast has seen a slight increase in contacts, but the data does not indicate a substantial increase in infections or hospitalizations.
Rather, this suggests that British Columbians have been increasing their contacts with others in a safe way, such as donning personal protective equipment, standing behind barriers and avoiding large gatherings in small spaces.
Henry said the current 65% rate makes her nervous but emphasized this does not mean cases are poised to increase rapidly.
She said she would like to see the rate stay where it is as the province reopens the economy.
In the meantime, Henry continued to urge British Columbians to keep their social circles small and stay away from larger gatherings.