The number of sudden deaths recorded since the start of B.C.'s heat wave now sits at 719, according to the latest update from the chief coroner.
In a statement issued Friday afternoon, Lisa Lapointe says those deaths were reported from Friday, June 25 to Thursday, July 1.
"This number is preliminary and subject to increase as additional deaths are entered into our system," she says, noting the extreme weather is a significant contributing factor to the uptick in people passing away. For comparison, the 719 deaths are three times more than what would normally occur in the province during the same period.
Some good news: Lapointe says the service is seeing a downward trend from the number of deaths reported over the past few days.
"We are hopeful this trend will continue."
Lapointe reiterated the importance of looking out for family, friends and neighbours, particularly those who live alone.
"Whenever possible, people are encouraged to visit cooler environments, such as cooling centres, malls, libraries and other air-conditioned community spaces for essential respite from the effects of severe heat. Many of the deaths experienced over the past week were among older individuals living alone in private residences with minimal ventilation," she says.
She adds her team will carefully investigate the circumstances of each death to determine the role extreme heat may have played and will use the findings to help prevent future deaths in similar circumstances.