12 more people die of COVID-19 as B.C. confirms 519 new cases
There are now 4,810 active cases of COVID-19 in the province
B.C. health officials announced 519 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths on Wednesday.
There are 4,810 active cases in the province with 360 people in hospital, and 76 in intensive care. Another 7,260 people are currently under active public health monitoring because they were exposed to the coronavirus.
A total of 1,031 people have died from COVID-19 in the province.
To date, 63,430 people have received a COVID-19 vaccine in B.C.
In a statement Wednesday evening, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said the COVID-19 vaccination campaign will be "the largest and most complex immunization program ever delivered in our province."
"It requires close alignment and co-ordination with public health teams, health authorities and many others in our health sector to ensure this is done safely and quickly," the statement read.
"Right now, our focus is on those who are highest risk, and we are tracking and reporting on this regularly."
The statement said Dr. Penny Ballem, chair of Vancouver Coastal Health, has been appointed as the B.C. immunization response team's executive lead.
Interior Health announced new COVID-19 outbreaks at Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake and at Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre, a long-term care home in Kamloops.
Health-care professionals in B.C. continued their calls this week for increased rapid testing for COVID-19. A pilot project run by Fraser Health suggested Wednesday that testing patients for COVID-19 before their scheduled surgery and transfer to wards from emergency departments could reduce hospital outbreaks in B.C.
During the pilot, 65 of 5,681 patients who were booked for surgery tested positive for the coronavirus but had no symptoms and would not have warranted a test based on a screening questionnaire.
Meanwhile, an emergency room doctor in Whistler, B.C., called on the government to enact an inter-provincial travel ban after seeing a concerning number of tourists from hard-hit provinces like Ontario and Quebec over the holidays.
A public health advisory in place across B.C. since Nov. 19 cautions against all non-essential travel, but an advisory does not have the legal power of a public health order.
B.C.'s health restrictions banning gatherings with people outside of one's immediate household, among other things, remains in effect until midnight on Feb. 5.