B.C. records 508 new cases of COVID-19 and 9 more deaths

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B.C. health officials confirmed 508 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and said nine more people had died of the disease.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 315 people, 74 of whom are in intensive care.

A total of 1,128 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

There are currently 4,479 active cases of coronavirus in the province, which is an increase from Thursday's number when there were 4,450 active cases.

Public health is monitoring 6,719 people across the province who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. More than 56,455 people who tested positive have recovered.

Bend curve, not rules

In their statement, Henry and Dix again asked residents to closely follow measures in place to reduce infections

"We can break the chains of transmission and bend the curve through our individual actions," it said. "This weekend, choose to bend the curve, not the rules."

B.C. has recorded two new outbreaks in health-care facilities — one at Royal Inland Hospital and the other at Royal Columbian Hospital.

Interior Health said that as of Friday morning, six patients and two staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at Royal Inland Hospital.

Late Friday, Providence Health announced that an outbreak has been declared in another unit at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver. There are now outbreaks in three separate areas of the hospital, but the health authority says there is no impact on other parts of building.

Interior Health has announced an additional 11 cases of COVID-19 linked to the community cluster at Big White Mountain, bringing the total there to 214 cases since the cluster was first declared.

Meanwhile, a community cluster in the Williams Lake area has grown to include a total of 268 cases. Interior Health says most of those cases are related to transmission at social gatherings and events, which are not permitted under current public health orders.

The province has also declared an outbreak at the North Fraser Pretrial Services Centre in Port Coquitlam, where 20 inmates have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The new cases announced Friday break down by region as follows: 132 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 228 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 13 in the Island Health region, 79 in the Interior Health region and 55 in the Northern Health region.

There was one new case of a person who resides outside of Canada.

About 29 per cent of the new cases announced Friday were in the Interior Health, Northern Health and Island Health regions, compared with 39 per cent of new cases in those regions that were announced Thursday.

Also on Friday, the province released its plans to vaccinate 4.3 million residents against the virus by September.

Officials will vaccinate people in four phases based on age with high-risk and most elderly populations going first.

So far, 110,566 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., including nearly 2,202 second doses.

Friday's statement said that even as more people are vaccinated in B.C., residents need to continue to keep their guard up against infection.

"We need to remember our risk remains high right now, even as we protect more and more people with vaccine," said the statement.

"We are not at the point where we can lift restrictions in our community or long-term care."

Henry and Dix's statement Friday follows news that B.C. will not ban non-essential travellers from other provinces in order to halt the spread of COVID-19.

Thursday evening, Horgan said that the government has explored its legal options but won't be restricting travel at this point, although that could change.