B.C. recorded 90 more COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the total active cases to 824 as the province attempts to deal with unregulated gatherings and parties believed to be fuelling the spread of the coronavirus.
The number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 continues to be low, with 13 people in hospital and five in intensive care as of Aug. 21. The new cases are predominantly in younger age groups, which have lower risk of developing severe coronavirus ailments but can spread the infection as easily.
There were two more deaths reported in the Fraser health region, bringing the B.C. total to 202 since the pandemic began early in 2020.
The rise of daily cases comes as the province prepares to reopen schools and more people return to work. B.C. Ferries has made masks mandatory on its coastal sailings, and the same rule applies to public transit as of next week.
“COVID-19 prevention looks different in different places,” Dr. Réka Gustafson, B.C.’s deputy provincial health officer, and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement. “In public, around people we do not know, we focus on giving people more space. In workplaces and classrooms where we interact with people we know, keeping our groups smaller, staying home when sick and reducing very close face-to-face contact is the goal.”
The province has announced new fines of up to $2,000 for people hosting or organizing parties without following public health orders, including restricting guests in vacation rentals to five, and recording contact information for people attending gatherings. Police and other enforcement officers can issue $200 fines for those who refuse to leave an event or are abusive to those enforcing public health orders.
Elderly people with chronic conditions are at greatest risk from COVID-19. Outbreak procedures are currently in place at six senior care centres in Fraser Health: Maple Ridge Seniors Village assisted living facility, Czorny Alzheimer Centre, Derby Manor, George Derby Centre and New Vista Care Home, as well as Arbutus Care Centre and Holy Family Hospital in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.