British Columbia

B.C. records 465 new cases of COVID-19 and 6 more deaths

B.C. health officials announced 465 new cases of COVID-19 and six more deaths on Thursday.

There are 257 people in hospital with the disease, 76 of whom are in intensive care

B.C.'s curve is slowing moving downward, provincial health officials say but are asking people to make safe choices around Super Bowl Sunday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

B.C. health officials announced 465 new cases of COVID-19 and six more deaths on Thursday as the province continues to show a slow bending of the epidemic's curve.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 257 people, 76 of whom are in intensive care.

The number of people hospitalized is at its lowest level since Nov. 21.

A total of 1,240 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

There are currently 4,447 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with public health monitoring 6,943 people across B.C. As of Thursday, 62,078 people who tested positive have recovered. 

 

B.C. has recorded one new health-care facility outbreak at Mountain View Manor in Ladner. The outbreak at Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo is now over

So far, 145,567 doses of COVID-19 vaccine has been administered, with 8,097 of those being second doses. 

Report on anti-Indigenous racism in health care released

Former B.C. judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond pointed to racism and unequal access to primary and preventative care for the poorer outcomes experienced by Indigenous people accessing the province's health care system.

Her latest report, released Thursday, shows Indigenous patients are 75 per cent more likely to visit the ER than anyone else in B.C. The report suggests that too many Indigenous people in B.C. don't have access to family doctors and other primary care services, and instead end up in the emergency room dealing with health crises.

Turpel-Lafond was appointed last June to investigate anti-Indigenous racism in the health-care system in response to allegations that hospital emergency staff were playing a "game" where they would guess the blood-alcohol content of Indigenous patients.

Though investigators weren't able to substantiate allegations about the guessing "game," they found widespread racism, stereotyping and discrimination against First Nations, Inuit and Metis patients.

Turpel-Lafond said B.C. must rebuild its health-care system to one "that does not have racism entrenched in it."

former B.C. judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, left, outlined discrimination faced by Indigenous people in the health care system in a report released Thursday. Health Minister Adrian Dix is at right. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Super Bowl parties offside, officials say

Dix and Henry have urged B.C. sports fans to avoid Super Bowl watch parties in recent weeks. They reiterated that advice Thursday.

"As we make plans for the weekend ahead, let's ensure we don't make the Super Bowl a superspreading day, by making safe choices," they wrote in their statement.

"This is especially important given we are still learning about the full impact of the variants of concern now in our communities."

Dix and Henry have regularly advised against increasing social contacts ahead of long weekends and events that in any other year would bring people together.

The Super Bowl kicks off at 3:30 p.m. PT Sunday. 

Changes to school mask policies

On Thursday, Henry, Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside and British Columbia School Trustees Association President Stephanie Higginson announced new mask policies in B.C.'s middle and high schools that require students and staff to wear masks at all times while indoors — with some exceptions.

Previously, students and staff were only required to wear masks in areas where interactions could not be controlled, such as in libraries, hallways and on school buses.

More than 90 per cent of all public school students are back in class, according to the school trustees association.

With files from Bethany Lindsay, Justin McElroy and Rhianna Schmunk

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