B.C. reports 96 new cases of COVID-19, sharp decline in active cases

SARS-CoV-2 virions dotting the surface of a human cell. (Courtesy: U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

B.C.’s top doctor reported 96 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, as the number of active cases in the province dropped significantly.

There are now 1,465 active cases in B.C., a decrease of 522 from Monday. Almost all of that decline occurred in the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) region.

According to B.C.’s health ministry, the decline stems from VCH’s delay in notifying the B.C. Centre for Disease Control of recovered cases in the last month as the health authority transitioned to a new data collection system.

The new system has been implemented, the ministry said, and the data is up to date, with 607 active cases in the Vancouver Coast Health region as of Tuesday.

No new deaths were reported, leaving the province’s COVID-19 death toll at 227.

The number of people in hospital rose by one to 61, according to a news release. Twenty-two patients are in intensive care.

Read more: Coronavirus: List of B.C. school exposures

A total of 8,304 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in B.C. so far. Of those, 6,589 patients have fully recovered, or about 79 per cent.

About 3,300 people are in self-isolation due to potential exposure.

The province announced an outbreak in a unit at Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital. Twelve long-term care or assisted-living facilities and four acute-care facilities have active outbreaks.

Earlier on Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Elections BC CEO Anton Boegman announces further details on safe voting practices, after BC NDP Leader John Horgan called a provincial election for Oct. 24 the day before.

Polling stations will feature physical-distancing measures, hand-sanitizing stations and physical barriers, while staff will wear personal protective equipment.

Voters will not be required to remove their masks for volunteers to compare with their photo ID. Staff will use other measures.

Schools will be used for weekend advance voting and on election day.

Read more: First full day of B.C.’s election campaign begins amid COVID-19 pandemic

Officials expect 35 to 40 per cent of all ballots to be cast mail, Boegman said, after more than 20,000 British Columbians had already requested such ballots.

Mail-in ballots can be requested from Elections BC by phone or online. They must be received by Saturday, Oct. 24, at 8 p.m.