British Columbia

9 more people die of COVID-19 in B.C., as 509 new cases confirmed

B.C. health officials announced 509 new cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths on Friday.

Health officials urge British Columbians to keep following public health orders as COVID variants emerge

Health officials urge British Columbians to keep following public health orders, as B.C. begins to flatten its curve. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

B.C. health officials announced 509 new cases of COVID-19 and nine 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 349 people, 68 of whom are in intensive care.

A total of 1,047 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

There are currently 4,604 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with public health monitoring 7,132 people across the province who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. More than 53,115 people who tested positive have recovered.  

B.C. recorded one new outbreak in health-care facilities, at Hilltop House in Squamish. 

Interior Health said on Friday it identified 13 additional cases of COVID-19 linked to the Big White Mountain community cluster. The total number of cases identified to date is 175.

Of those, 110 reside on Big White Mountain. There are currently 32 active cases at the resort and 143 individuals who have recovered.

Vaccine delay

A total of 75,914 people have been vaccinated in B.C. so far.

On Friday, the federal government announced that global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will temporarily reduce shipments of its vaccine to Canada in order to expand manufacturing capacity at a facility in Belgium.

That means fewer shipments of the vaccine from Pfizer to countries like Canada at least until March.

In a statement on Friday, Henry and Dix said they were were disappointed to hear about the short-term delay in the delivery of the Pfizer vaccines.

They said the province is working with the federal government to determine how the delay may impact the rollout in B.C. Officials said they would provide more information in the coming days.

On Thursday, federal officials said that by April they expect one million doses to arrive in Canada each week.

Henry and Dix are urging British Columbians to keep following public health measures, as B.C. begins to flatten its curve.

"We must never forget how far we have come by working together," they said.

"Over the past months, we have all made sacrifices for the health of our families and communities, and now more than ever we need to hold the line and stop transmission of COVID-19 as our vaccination program ramps up."

COVID-19 variants

Henry reported Thursday the first confirmed case in B.C. of a more infectious coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa.

She said health officials are investigating how the person in B.C. contracted the variant, as they have not travelled or been linked to any travellers.

Henry also reported four cases in B.C. of the variant linked to the U.K. All four cases have been traced and officials don't believe they are circulating in the community.

Both variants spread more easily and rapidly and have led to surging cases in a number of countries.

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