British Columbia

11 more people die of COVID-19 in B.C., as 624 new cases confirmed

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced 624 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths on Friday.

Health officials urge B.C. residents to maintain vigilance heading into the first weekend of the holidays

A woman wearing a face mask carries shopping bags past a cafe in downtown Vancouver. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

B.C. health officials announced 624 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths on Friday.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 356 people, 92 of whom are in intensive care.

A total of 724 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

There are currently 9,978 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with public health monitoring 10,211 people across the province who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. More than  33,589 people who tested positive have recovered.  

There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks, but one new community outbreak at Rossdown Natural Foods.

The updated numbers from the province include 106 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 406 new cases in the Fraser Health region, five in the Island Health region, 60 in the Interior Health region and 47 in Northern Health.

 

Northern B.C. has been seeing a major spike in COVID-19 cases since November. Numbers released by the First Nations Health Authority reveal that Indigenous people in northern B.C. are being disproportionately affected, with infections in First Nations communities occurring at twice the rate of the rest of the population.

The number of cases connected to the Big White ski resort near Kelowna, B.C., jumped to 76 on Friday, according to the Interior Health Authority. The resort is now cancelling all upcoming reservations for people who live outside of the Central Okanagan.

Immunization efforts continue

In their statement, Henry and Dix said 1,376 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine were given to B.C. front-line health-care workers as of Friday afternoon, for a total of 2,592 doses to date.

"The focus of our immunization program right now is to safely protect as many people as possible as efficiently as we can, but we have to remember that this is a global effort with many aspects often changing.

As more vaccine arrives in the coming weeks, we all need to be patient and continue to follow public health orders to keep our communities safe," the statement read in part.

Health officials also urged caution heading into the holiday season, with Henry and Dix urging families and young people completing their school terms to find safe ways to enjoy the break.

They also warned people shopping for last-minute gifts to be respectful of others and maintain "layers of protection" against the virus — including masks and physical distancing.

Current restrictions in B.C. are set to expire on Jan. 8.

"This holiday season will be like no other. It will be a quieter time than what many of us are used to, but it is important to remember that we will get through this storm," they said.

On Thursday, Henry announced new guidelines for COVID-19 testing. She said anyone who has had contact with a known case and has any possible symptoms should get tested immediately.

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