VICTORIA — British Columbia has hit its highest number of daily COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 109 people testing positive for the disease.
The milestone was reached between Friday and Saturday, surpassing the 100 cases reported on Aug. 14.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday that 269 cases were reported between Friday and Sunday, and one person died in a long-term care facility, for a total of 203 fatalities in B.C.
Henry said the province has ramped up testing, with up to 5,000 tests being done every day, and that the undetected transmission rate remains low.
However, she said keeping the number of cases from increasing even more will require a collective effort in order to protect the elderly and those with a compromised immune system before flu season begins in the fall.
More fines against businesses and individuals in recent days is the right move if public health measures, such as limiting gatherings to 50 people or failing to abide by physical distancing rules, are not followed, she said.
"Showing support for each other, assuming the best and being an influencer for positive action is how we will get through this storm together. And there are many more months of this to come."
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth introduced fines last week of up to $2,000 for businesses that flout public health measures and $200 for individuals who disregard safety plans or refuse to leave a premise.
Police in Victoria and Richmond handed out fines over the weekend of $2,300 to businesses, including a $300 surcharge levy, and $230 to individuals who faced a similar charge of $30.
Owners of banquet halls have called on Henry to change the province's 50-person limit on gatherings based on the size of a venue but Henry said that won't happen to keep physical distancing measures in place and so contact tracers can rapidly follow up after someone has tested positive for COVID-19.
"We know when there's more people than that the chances of somebody coming in with the virus and potentially spreading it go up dramatically," she said pointing to parties that led to clusters of cases.
Large religious gatherings, including in Alberta, have also led to more cases, Henry said.
"We need to hold the line that we're holding and that includes any event, whether it's in a banquet hall, whether it's in a church or whether it's in a restaurant or bar."
Health Minister Adrian Dix was adamant that rules won't be relaxed: "The answer to the request is simply no, not because we don't understand banquet halls or the services they provide but these are especially the kinds of events that we have to address right now."
— By Camille Bains in Vancouver
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 24, 2020.
The Canadian Press