B.C. health officials have reported 317 new cases of COVID-19 over the last 72 hours and six new deaths, as the number of people in hospital infected with the disease caused by the coronavirus continues to rise.
There are a record 1,594 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C., officials said Monday. That’s an increase of 133 from the last report on Friday.
There were 137 cases recorded from Friday to Saturday, 119 cases from Saturday to Sunday, and 61 from Sunday to Monday.
Five of the six news deaths were in long-term care, officials said.
B.C.’s COVID-19 death toll stands at 219.
The number of people in hospital rose to 58, a surge of nine since Friday. Sixteen of those patients were in critical or intensive care.
Since the pandemic began, there have been 7,279 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province. Of those, 5,446 patients have fully recovered, or about 76 per cent.
B.C. reported that 3,047 people are in self-isolation due to possible exposure.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said 17,125 COVID-19 tests were conducted over the past three days, with a positive test rate of 1.85 per cent.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry noted that the smoky skies have added another layer of complexity to the fight against the pandemic.
She noted that symptoms such as a dry cough and watery eyes can be associated with both smoky conditions and COVID-19.
However, COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, chills, ache, cough are likely not caused by wildfire smoke.
Outdoor exercise should be avoided until the skies clear and indoor exercise should be performed at a low intensity, she added.
Meanwhile, the BC Teachers’ Federation sent out a tweet Sunday night telling teachers to take a sick day if they were feeling any ill effects from the smoke.
The union expressed concern that teachers were being told to keep their classroom windows shut to keep out the smoke, when last week they were told to keep windows open to improve ventilation amid the pandemic.
“Teachers and students should not be in crowded classes with no ventilation or fresh air,” the BCTF tweeted.
In response, Henry said windows should be closed and schools should use portable air filters where available.
Dix acknowledged that the double whammy of wildfire smoke and a global pandemic can feel overwhelming.
“I think that between the changes we’ve made in our lives for COVID-19 and the smoke from the U.S. fires, many of us may have thought, can we get a break here? It was that kind of weekend.”
— With files from Simon Little
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