British Columbia

What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. for Dec. 28

British Columbia health authorities confirmed on Sunday the first known case of a resident infected with a variant of the COVID-19 virus first identified in the United Kingdom.

On Sunday, B.C. identified its first case of a COVID-19 variant initially detected in the U.K.

Health-care workers in Vancouver wait in line for their COVID-19 vaccination on Dec. 22. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to give next update Tuesday at 3 p.m.
  • On Sunday, B.C. confirmed its first case of COVID-19 variant initially discovered in U.K.
  • As per the latest update on Dec. 24, the seven-day average for new cases in B.C. was still at 547
  • 341 people are hospitalized, including 78 in critical care.
  • There were 8,865 active cases across B.C.
  • Since the pandemic began, 808 British Columbians have died.
  • 8,178 people received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine before Christmas.
  • Mink on a second Fraser Valley mink farm have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Health officials confirmed on Sunday the first known case of a B.C. resident infected with a variant of the COVID-19 virus first identified in the United Kingdom.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is expected to be asked about the presence of the new variant in B.C. during her next update on the pandemic response Tuesday at 3 p.m.

As per the province's last update on Dec. 24, there were 8,865 active cases of the novel coronavirus in B.C. Of those, 341 people are in hospital, including 78 in intensive care.

The seven-day average of new cases in B.C. stood at 547 and has been dropping steadily since it peaked at 808 in late November.

New variant detected in B.C.

The first B.C. case of the new COVID-19 variant was detected in an individual who lives in the Island Health region and returned from the U.K. on Air Canada Flight AC855 on Dec. 15.

The person developed symptoms while in a mandatory 14-day quarantine and was subsequently tested. The positive diagnosis was confirmed on Dec. 19. 

Dr. Srinivas Murthy, an infectious disease expert at the University of British Columbia, said it's not unexpected that a case of the new variant was discovered in the province, and there will likely be more across Canada, the United States and around the world.

Dr. Srinivas Murthy, associate professor at UBC's Faculty of Medicine, says finding cases of a new variant of the COVID-19 virus in British Columbia was to be expected after it was detected in Ontario over the weekend.. (Enzo Zanatta/CBC News)

Henry says that while there is no evidence so far that this variant affects the severity of illness, it does appear to transmit more easily.

No update since Christmas

Before the Christmas holidays, Henry said the number of new daily cases in B.C. had dropped, but warned it was still "at a very high level."

To date, there have been 48,609 cases of the virus in B.C., including 808 people who have died.

In their written statement on Dec. 24, Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix encouraged British Columbians to keep Christmas celebrations small and virtual this year.

It will be a couple weeks before new cases reflect whether social gatherings, travel and Boxing Day shopping events over the holiday season have led to increased transmission and a spike in cases.

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What's happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 7 p.m. PT on Sunday, Canada's COVID-19 case count stood at 552,020, with 79,863 of those cases considered active.

A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 14,964.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Loss of taste or smell.
  • Headache.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or o​​​​​​ther extreme symptoms should call 911.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean.
  • Keep your distance from people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

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