COVID-19 claims another 16 lives, as B.C. announces 566 new cases
352 people in hospital, with 74 in intensive care
B.C. health officials announced 566 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 16 more deaths.
According to numbers from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, there are now 9,315 active cases of infection from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
There are currently 352 people in hospital, up 24 per cent from two weeks ago, with 74 in intensive care.
"While we have seen the start of encouraging trends in our COVID-19 curve, the number of new cases and people with serious illness requiring care in hospital remains high," Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a written statement.
"This is why the public health orders and restrictions remain in place and why we must continue to stay local and keep to our households through the holiday season."
Though the number of new cases announced Tuesday is the lowest since Nov. 17, the death toll is tied for the highest-one-day total.
With the latest deaths, the provincial death toll stands at 543. To date, 38,718 people have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C.
There have been no new outbreaks in the health-care system or the community.
"Let's make the coming weeks our "winter break" by breaking the chain of transmission in our province. We can still be festive and enjoy the season, but let's ensure it is only with our immediate household or, if you live on your own, with one or two close contacts," Henry and Dix said.
"Take in the holiday lights in your neighbourhood, have a virtual visit with friends or support a 'drive in and drop off' charitable toy drive."
4,000 to be vaccinated next week
Also on Tuesday, Premier John Horgan announced on Twitter that "about 4,000 high-risk people" will receive a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of next week.
Officials are expected to provide more details on B.C.'s planned vaccine rollout later this week.
The first vaccine doses are just days away. About 4,000 high-risk people in BC will be immunized by end of next week.<br><br>Tomorrow, I'll be joined by Dr. Bonnie Henry & Health Minister <a href="https://twitter.com/adriandix?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@adriandix</a> to update how an immunization program will help keep British Columbians healthy & safe.—@jjhorgan
Meanwhile, B.C.'s state of emergency was extended Tuesday for another two weeks to Dec. 22.
On Monday, B.C.'s provincial health officer extended the ban on social gatherings until early January, prohibiting large holiday gatherings and New Year's parties.
Residents must continue to only socialize with people in their household until midnight Jan. 8. People who live alone can continue to see one or two people.
The extension also bans outdoor gatherings, meaning groups can't meet in backyards or parks.
All events are also banned, although Henry has created a new exemption for some drive-in and drive-through events.
Other restrictions, including a ban on in-person faith services, high-intensity group fitness classes and adult team sports, will continue indefinitely.
194 tickets issued for COVID-19 violations
The province also provided an update Tuesday on the enforcement of public health orders meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
To date, 36 tickets for $2,300 each have been handed out to owners or organizers breaking the rules on gatherings and events. Another 16 tickets worth $2,300 were issued for violations of the rules for restaurants and bars.
And 142 tickets for $230 have been issued to individuals who refused to comply with direction from law enforcement, according to the province.
- Stay informed by joining our CBC Vancouver Facebook group on COVID-19[
With files from Alex Migdal