The death toll from COVID-19 in British Columbia has reached 100, as health officials announced two more deaths from the coronavirus in the province Saturday.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced 95 new confirmed cases of the virus, most of them associated with ongoing outbreaks announced earlier this week.
There have now been 1,948 cases of COVID-19 confirmed through testing in B.C. Of those, 96 people are in hospital with the virus and 41 are in critical care.
One of the deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours happened in a B.C. First Nations community, Henry said, noting that it’s the first death from COVID-19 in such a setting in the province.
“It’s a tragedy for all of us,” the provincial health officer said, becoming emotional as she spoke. “Our elders, in particular, in our First Nations communities are culture- and history-keepers. When they become ill and when they die, we all lose. And I want you to know that we feel that collective loss today.”
While Henry did not specify where the death had occurred, officials in Alert Bay confirmed the death of a woman from their remote community on Cormorant Island near the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
The 95 new cases are the most B.C. health officials have announced in a single day since the first case of the virus in the province was confirmed in January.
The announcement comes after a week in which much of the discussion at provincial press conferences focused on declining case numbers and the possibility of loosening physical distancing restrictions.
“Part of the reason that we’ve had such a dramatic jump in cases today is related to the community outbreaks that we’ve been investigating,” Henry said.
She said 40 of the new cases announced Saturday are associated with the ongoing outbreak at the Mission Institution medium security federal prison in the Fraser Valley.
There have now been 106 inmates at the facility who have tested positive for COVID-19, as well as 12 staff members.
Another source of new cases announced Saturday was the outbreak at the Superior Poultry processing facility in Coquitlam, where 16 additional positive tests have been recorded.
The total number of cases associated with the United Poultry Ltd. facility in Vancouver remains at 35, Henry said Saturday.
The update comes as health officials continue to report new outbreaks of the coronavirus in the province, including six infections at Lions Gate Hospital.
There have been no additional COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities in B.C., according to Henry, and another such facility has been declared coronavirus-free. There are now 11 long-term care and assisted-living homes that have had outbreaks of COVID-19 declared over.
On Saturday morning the B.C. government also announced a public safety order to dismantle homeless encampments in Vancouver and Victoria and move the people living in them to vacant hotel rooms, to help reduce the chance that COVID-19 could spread through those camps.
Most of British Columbia’s coronavirus cases are located in the Lower Mainland. Some 853 people have tested positive for the virus in the Fraser Health region and 778 have tested positive in the Vancouver Coastal Health Region. Between them, those health authorities are responsible for all of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, as well as the Sea-to-Sky corridor.
Elsewhere in the province, there have been 160 confirmed cases in the Interior Health region, 115 in the Island Health region and 42 in Northern Health.
A total of 1,137 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are now considered fully recovered, meaning there are 711 active cases in the province.
Watch an American Sign Language translation of the news conference on the provincial government’s YouTube page.
With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Jen St. Denis