A mid-month rise in COVID-19 cases can be traced back to British Columbians getting a little too close to one another over the Labour Day weekend, health officials say.
Another 139 cases, only three of which were in the region served by Interior Health, were announced province-wide between Thursday and Friday.
Since Sept. 15, the average number of new daily cases has been 153.
In the first two weeks of the month, the average daily number of new cases was 108.
“The cases we are seeing today are a direct result of how we spent our Labour Day long weekend. Let’s break the chain of transmission and turn this trend around,” Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a joint Friday statement.
“No one intends to pass the virus onto friends or family, but it is very easy to do. It can take up to two weeks for symptoms of COVID-19 to develop and, in that time, we can inadvertently spread it to others.”
As of Friday, there were 1,803 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and another 3,075 who are under active public health monitoring because of their identified exposure to someone known to be infected.
Hospitalizations rose two, to 59, and 20 of them are in intensive care.
Across the province, 7,842 British Columbians have now been infected since the start of the pandemic, including 492 in the Interior Health region.
A total of 220 people have died in B.C. from COVID-19; two of those deaths occurred in the region served by Interior Health.
B.C. vs. Canada
A total of 330 people across the Okanagan have been infected by COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, new figures from the government indicate.
That number represents 0.08 per cent of the region's population of 377,000 people.
In the past two weeks, 13 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the Okanagan.
The rate of transmission in the Valley is now among the province's lowest, behind the West Kootenays and northwest B.C., and far below the rates being experienced in Vancouver and Surrey.
Every Thursday, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control produces a surveillance report covering a variety of COVID-19 data with infection statistics broken down by geography, patient age and likelihood of hospitalization.
The most recent report provides some context to the scope and effect of the pandemic beyond the daily case counts provided by Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
What often attracts the most media and public attention is the rising number of newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases.
Between Sept. 11 and Sept. 17, 833 new cases were confirmed provincewide, compared to 789 in the previous one-week period.
And the number of active COVID-19 cases across the province also rose in the past two weeks, from 1,412 to 1,705.
That number has been rising steadily since mid-July, and is now more than three times higher than active case counts in March, before the start of near-lockdown provisions ordered by the government.
But the surveillance reports also contain information that, while perhaps not reassuring exactly, give a fuller picture of how the pandemic is affecting British Columbians.
Here are some other highlights from this week's COVID-19 surveillance report, with numbers accurate to Thursday:
— Cases have surged among people aged between 20 and 40, with that group now accounting for 44 per cent of all COVID-19 infections in B.C.
But only 10 per cent of British Columbians who've been hospitalized for the disease have been between 20 and 40, and no one in this age range has died of the disease.
Those numbers reflect the fact that reasonably healthy young people are simply much less likely to become seriously ill if they catch COVID-19.
— There are almost one million children and teenagers under 19 in B.C., but only 605 of them have caught COVID-19. That represents 0.06 per cent of the population group. Of the 605 children or teens who were infected, only five were hospitalized, none were treated in intensive care, and all have recovered.
— Of the 219 British Columbians who died of COVID-19 from the onset of the pandemic until this past Thursday, 28 per cent were over the age of 90, 69 per cent were over age 80, and 88 per cent were over age 70.