British Columbia

21 more people die of COVID-19 in B.C. as 522 new cases confirmed

B.C. health officials announced 522 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 21 more deaths on the same day the province rolled out its first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

361 people in hospital, 93 in intensive care

There have been 43,463 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C. since the the pandemic began. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

B.C. health officials announced 522 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 21 more deaths on the same day the province rolled out its first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The number of active cases across the province rose to 9,860. The number of patients in hospital went up slightly to 361 from 352 last week, with 93 people now in intensive care. Last week, there were 74 people in intensive care.

A total of 668 people have now died in B.C. as a result of COVID-19. There have been 43,463 total cases of the disease since the the pandemic began.

More than 10,768 people are currently under public health monitoring. To date, 31,866 people who tested positive in B.C. for COVID-19 have recovered.

Fraser Health announced a new outbreak at Burnaby Hospital. The hospital's last outbreak — where 62 patients and 52 staff members were infected — was declared over last week.

A cluster of COVID-19 cases at the Big White resort community near Kelowna, B.C., has grown to 60 confirmed cases, according to Interior Health.

On Tuesday, a health-care worker became the first person in B.C. to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

 

Nisha Yunus, a 64-year-old residential care aide, received the shot shortly after 1 p.m. PT at an undisclosed vaccination site in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. Yunus has worked as a residential care aide for 41 years. 

Henry has said the rollout is the "most complex and comprehensive immunization program ever delivered in B.C."

Nisha Yunus, a residential care aide at Providence Health Care, elbow bumps Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry after Yunus was injected with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTEch COVID-19 vaccine in British Columbia on Dec. 15, 2020. (Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters)

But Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix stressed the arrival of the vaccine doesn't mean that restrictions can be eased just yet.

"No one wants to experience the tragedy of losing a loved one when this day of hope is upon us," they said. 

"So let's make Dec. 15 a day for doing all we can to protect our communities and the people we care for most."

Dix, speaking earlier Tuesday on CBC's BC Today, said he expects the province to ramp up enforcement against people disobeying provincial health orders in the coming weeks.

"We are concerned in general," Dix said, noting the significant number of cases being detected in the province daily.

He said travelling for non-essential purposes is not an official order, even though doing so is strongly discouraged.

Dix said if people ignore the advice and travel to meet with people outside their household, they are violating provincial health orders, which restrict people to socializing only with people in their own household until midnight Jan. 8.

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