10 more people die of COVID-19 in B.C., as 395 new cases confirmed
Lower new cases total reverses the rising trend seen over the last week
The coronavirus has claimed 10 more lives in the last 24 hours, the highest one-day total in two weeks, bringing British Columbia's total deaths to 1,348 since the pandemic began.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced 395 new cases of COVID-19 during a live news conference Thursday, reversing the rising trend seen over the last week.
The vast majority of deaths in B.C. — 88 per cent — have been in people 70 years of age and older, and aside from Thursday's totals, deaths have been heading steadily downward — a trend Henry says is likely to continue with 92 per cent of residents and staff in long-term care homes having received at least one shot of the vaccine.
She noted, however, that recently three people in their 30s have died from the virus, some of them with underlying health conditions. She said the deaths in younger people are not related to variants of the virus and that no one in B.C. has died from a variant strain.
Restrictions to remain into March
B.C. is not yet ready to ease restrictions, with new cases still too high and more transmissible variants on the rise over the past weeks, Henry said
The province's reproductive rate for the coronavirus has crept above one, meaning that on average, each infected person is transmitting the virus to more than one other person.
And the positivity rate for new cases has also risen in tandem provincewide to 6.7 per cent, mostly driven, Henry said, by high positivity rates in Fraser Health — over eight per cent — and Northern Health — 11.5 per cent.
"It's like a tree that keeps growing and spreading," she said. "We need to keep cases low and slow so we can control that."
Henry says B.C. is "not quite there yet" in terms of easing restrictions and will be looking ahead to March for rules that affect religious services, organized sports and increasing social contacts.
To date, there have been a total of 78,673 cases of the virus in the province. Currently, 228 people are being treated in hospital for COVID-19, with 62 in critical care.
Across B.C., there are 4,489 active cases of COVID-19.
Vaccine rollout "ramping up"
Henry reassured British Columbians that the province's immunization program is "ramping up" and that more details on the vaccine rollout will be released Monday.
"We are starting, as you know, with our most vulnerable seniors and elders across B.C.," she said.
Wednesday, an additional 8,958 people received vaccination shots, 5,549 of which were second shots. B.C. has administered 239,833 doses of vaccine in total and 68,157 second doses.
Henry noted that confidence in the vaccines is high, but that the province also has to balance speed with delivering vaccines effectively among the population.
"I am encouraged immensely by the enthusiasm, but I also ask to give us the time to make sure we are getting it right."