Henry

The total number of people in the Interior Health region infected by COVID-19 rose from 369 last Friday to 377 on Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says.

More than 1,000 British Columbians are now under orders to self-isolate because they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Those people could become infected as a result of their direct and indirect link to large parties held in Kelowna around Canada Day.

"If you have been told to self isolate, this is not optional," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday during the province's daily update on the coronavirus pandemic.

"This is a requirement. This is what you need to do, now, for the duration of the incubation period from when you were exposed, to ensure that if you develop symptoms, you are not going to pass it on to others," she said .

"I understand this is difficult, especially now in the summer, where it means you cannot work, it means you have to stay away from your family and friends, and not leave your home unless it's important to get medical care," she said.

"Nobody wants this, and this is why it is so important that we continue to take our actions now to protect ourselves and protect each other as we move through our pandemic," she said.

Last week, the government said that close to 1,000 people were under orders to self-isolate. The updated figure, provided Monday by Henry, was 1,010.

The exposures have been traced to large parties held and attended in Kelowna mainly by young people who did not follow proper COVID-19 precautions. The parties were indoors, and many of those at the gatherings were strangers to one another.

Between Friday and Monday, another 81 British Columbians - almost half of them in the Interior Health region - tested positive for the disease, bringing the total to 3,500.

Two additional deaths due to the disease were reported, both people being residents of long-term care facilities. Across B.C., 193 people, most of them elderly, have now died of COVID-19.

There are 264 active cases. Eighty-seven per cent of those who've caught COVID-19 have now fully recovered.

To minimize the chance of another community exposure event like the ones that happened earlier this month in Kelowna, the government has now limited the use of rental properties - such as short-term vacation homes, hotel and motel rooms, and cabins - to the specified maximum occupancy, plus five visitors.

"That means you cannot have a large group of people over to party in your hotel room or on your boat during this period of our Covid summer," Henry said.

It's the responsibility of the owner of the property to ensure the order is complied with, and to collect contact information from all those present, Henry said.

"The past weeks have shown what can happen, in some places and on some occasions, when we let our guard down," Health Minister Adrian Dix said. "They've shown us how COVID-19 bursts our bubble when we fail to stay within it."