Young people make up a greater share of COVID-19 patients in the B.C. Interior than in the province as a whole.

More than 47 per cent of those who’ve caught COVID-19 across the Okanagan and throughout the wider region served by Interior Health are between the ages of 20 and 40. The comparable figure province-wide is 34 per cent, according to statistics from the BC Centre for Disease Control.

The higher percentage of infected young people across the Interior is due in large part to large parties held in Kelowna around the Canada Day holiday. After spiking later in July, COVID-19 caseloads in the Interior have tapered off significantly.

On Friday, just one of the 53 new COVID-19 cases announced for the province was in the Interior Health region. Numbers have been rising disproportionately fast in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser health regions.

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry used a metaphor that will be familiar to British Columbians in urging people to continue to practice physical distancing and take other measures to curb the spread of the pandemic.

“As we see new COVID-19 hotspots emerge and new cases creep up in every health authority, we have to keep our firewall strong,” they said in a joint Friday news release.

“Like a wildfire, COVID-19 has the potential to rapidly burn out of control and we need to put out these flare-ups,” they said.

With the 53 new cases province-wide, 3,934 British Columbians have been infected since the onset of the pandemic earlier this year. The death toll remained unchanged at 195. The median age of those who’ve died has been 85.

Although new COVID-19 cases rose 46 per cent this week compared to last week, hospitalizations for the disease remain far below levels seen a few months ago.

Currently, only 11 people are in hospital, compared to a peak of 140 in early April.

“New hospital admissions and deaths remain low. This may be due to the younger age of recently reported cases,” the B.C. Centre for Disease control says in its most recent COVID-19 weekly surveillance report, covering the period of July 31-Aug. 6.