Eleven more people in the region served by Interior Health have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, bringing the total to 41.
Across B.C., the number of cases is now 617, up from 472 on Sunday afternoon.
“The good news is we now have 173 people who have fully recovered from COVID-19,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday.
The current recovery rate of 28% shows most people who contract the virus can manage their symptoms at home and don’t require hospitalization, Henry said.
As well, evidence from around the world shows that those who recover have immunity from COVID-19 for “at least weeks and months,” Henry said.
No additional deaths from COVID-19 have occurred since the weekend, with the toll remaining at 13 provincewide.
“Most of the deaths, tragically, have been related to the Lynn Valley care home” in the Lower Mainland, Henry said.
Despite the news on recovery rates and subsequent immunity, Henry stressed that cases are continuing to rise across the province and are expected to do so for some time.
“We are seeing escalating numbers across B.C. We know there is risk across the province,” she said.
Fifty-nine patients with coronavirus are in hospital, 23 of whom are in intensive care. Thirty-three people were in hospital last weekend.
Hospital managers are taking unprecedented steps to free up beds in anticipation of more people requiring hospitalization due to the coronavirus pandemic, Health Minister Adrian Dix said.
A total of 3,866 hospital beds are currently available across the province, Dix said.
“What that indicates is preparation,” he said. “Essentially, what we’re doing now is to ensure to the maximum extent possible that we’re not caught short.”
The high number of available beds in B.C. hospitals is “unprecedented,” Dix said. “We have to be prepared for the possible influx of patients.”
The cancellation of elective surgeries has freed up many of the beds that otherwise would have been occupied, Dix said.
Hospital discharges, Henry said, are based on a case-by-case basis and involve decisions based on such things as what the patient was being treated for and what kind of home support is available to them.
“This is being done on an individual basis across the system,” she said.
Asked if it was inevitable that B.C. would follow countries like Italy, which have experienced much higher rates of coronavirus infection and higher death rates due to the disease, Henry said she didn’t think so.
“I do not believe we are on the same trajectory as Italy,” she said.
Reasons for that belief, she said, included swifter action to limit social gatherings once the virus had become established, as well as different testing strategy aimed at identifying people considered to be most at risk from the coronavirus.
Later this week, Henry said she would be releasing information about the curve of coronavirus infections in B.C. with the modelling intended to project the disease’s progression among British Columbians.
Two more long-term care facilities, neither of which is in Interior Health, have reported cases of coronavirus among residents or staff. There was one case at each facility, Henry said.
About 3,500 coronavirus tests are being done daily in B.C., said Dix, who praised what he said was the “courageous and heroic” work done by employees of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and its partners.