B.C. records 342 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily case count since May 27

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People wear masks in downtown Kelowna on July 29, 2021, the first day of the resumption of the mask mandate in the Central Okanagan. (Winston Szeto/CBC - image credit)
People wear masks in downtown Kelowna on July 29, 2021, the first day of the resumption of the mask mandate in the Central Okanagan. (Winston Szeto/CBC - image credit)

B.C. health officials announced 342 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest daily case count since May 27.

In a written statement, the provincial Ministry of Health said there are currently 1,764 active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Half the new cases are in B.C.'s Interior.

The breakdown by region is as follows:

  • 171 new cases in Interior Health, which has 945 active cases.

  • 66 new cases in Fraser Health, which has 388 active cases.

  • 57 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, which has 258 active cases.

  • 32 new cases in Island Health, which has 109 active cases.

  • 13 new cases in Northern Health, which has 52 active cases.

  • Three new cases of people who reside outside of Canada, a group that has 12 active cases.

There are five active outbreaks in long-term care homes in the province. Four are in the Interior Health region, and one is in Fraser Health.

A total of 55 people are in hospital. Of those, 23 are in intensive care, up from 20 a week ago.

Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are up 17 per cent from last Wednesday, when 47 people were in hospital with the disease.

There were no additional deaths in the past 24 hours. The provincial death toll from COVID-19 is now 1,772 lives lost.

As of Wednesday, 81.5 per cent of those 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 67.9 per cent a second dose.

Delta variant behind increase in cases

The number of COVID-19 cases caused by the delta variant is doubling every seven to 10 days in British Columbia, experts say.

Sarah Otto, an expert in the mathematical models of pandemic growth and evolution at the University of British Columbia, said the variant, which first became prominent in India, is displacing the alpha variant that originated in the United Kingdom.

"Delta is now the most common variant in the province, with its frequency doubling every week relative to alpha,'' Otto said.

"The delta variant increases the viral load by about 1,000 fold, making it much easier to catch and transmit.''

Leading vaccines, including those approved for use in Canada, do appear to ward off serious disease that can lead to hospitalization or death.

Walk-in Wednesday

A vaccination blitz is being held Wednesday to increase vaccination rates in the province, with walk-in clinics providing a COVID-19 vaccine to any resident who needs one.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the campaign is an effort to make vaccination as accessible as possible.

"We have to try everything. There's a lot at stake for their health, as individuals and a lot at stake for the community's health," Dix said.

British Columbians aged 12 and over who have not yet been immunized can register in three ways:

  • By calling 1-833-838-2323. Translators are available in 140 languages.

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