British Columbia

11 more people die of COVID-19 in B.C., as 737 new cases confirmed

B.C. health officials announced 737 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 11 more deaths, just one day after the disease claimed a record 28 lives.

Daily cases in less populous Interior Health region now rivalling those in Vancouver Coastal Health

B.C. has announced plans to immunize 400,000 people against COVID-19 by March 2021, with priority given to health-care workers and residents and staff of long-term care homes. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

B.C. health officials announced 737 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 11 more deaths, just one day after the disease claimed a record 28 lives.

The number of active cases across the province has risen to 9,589, but the number of patients in hospital dipped slightly to 342 from 346 on Thursday, with 87 people in intensive care. 

A total of 598 people have now died in B.C. as a result of COVID-19, with the total number of cases reaching 40,797 since the pandemic began.

More than 12,000 people are currently under public health monitoring.

"COVID-19 continues to circulate in our communities and the risk to all of us remains high," Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in in a statement.

"This is why it is so important to follow the public health orders and to use our layers of protection until the vaccine is available for all of us."

On Friday, Interior Health announced 99 new cases of the disease, rivalling the numbers reported by the more populous Vancouver Coastal Health region (VCH), which recorded 119 cases.

Interior Health's numbers continue a trend over the last four weeks, where the rate of infection in the smaller health region is outpacing Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health.

Fraser Health, which had 469 new infections, still  accounted, at 64 per cent, for most of the new cases announced on Friday.

There were eight new cases in the Island Health region and 41 in the Northern Health region.

The province also announced three new health-care facility outbreaks at Agassiz Seniors Community, Hilton Villa Seniors Community and St. Michael's Centre.

The outbreaks at Veterans Memorial Lodge, Amica White Rock and Burnaby Hospital are over.

The statement from the province Friday also referenced a new outbreak at the Regent Christian Academy, a private school in Surrey, which had 30 test positive cases of COVID-19.

Fraser Health said  that the school will be closing and switching to remote learning until Dec. 18, when students go on winter break.

Keep going

Friday's statement reiterated the theme officials have echoed all week, that as vaccinations begin, people remain steadfast in their efforts to prevent the spread of the virus.

"This weekend, take a step back from the usual holiday rush," it said.

"Take the time to get outside and enjoy a quieter weekend with those in your household. Show your loved ones you care by staying local and staying away right now."

On Wednesday, B.C. announced plans to immunize 400,000 people against COVID-19 by March 2021, with priority given to residents and staff of long-term care homes and health-care workers.

Just under 4,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, approved in Canada on Wednesday morning are set to arrive in B.C., at sites in Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health.

More health region-based info

On Thursday, Henry said that officials are now offering more data about the spread of the disease based on the province's 89 local health regions.

The data is being made available now, because health officials say they are no longer worried about it identifying individuals. She said the numbers have increased to the point where that's no longer possible.

Henry said there is still stigma surrounding the disease, which can result in people not receiving the support they need from their communities.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chad Pawson is a CBC News reporter in Vancouver. You can contact him at chad.pawson@cbc.ca.

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