COVID-19 update: B.C. announces 445 new cases, 10 deaths in final update of the week
VANCOUVER -- B.C. added 445 cases of COVID-19 to its total in health officials' final update of the week Friday.
During a live news conference, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix also announced 10 additional deaths from the disease.
Most of those who died were seniors in long-term care homes, Henry said, offering her condolences to their families and caregivers.
There are now 4,347 active cases of the coronavirus in B.C., a number that includes 226 people who are hospitalized. Of those, 61 are in intensive care.
Since the pandemic began, B.C. has recorded 72,750 total cases of COVID-19 and 1,288 deaths.
Henry also announced a new outbreak at Chartwell Carrington Place, an assisted-living facility in Vernon. One staff member and one resident at the facility have tested positive for the coronavirus there so far.
Two other outbreaks in the province's health-care system were declared over Friday, one at the University of Northern B.C. Hospital and the other at Royal Columbian Hospital.
A total of 162,982 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered in B.C., including 17,562 second doses, Henry said.
She added that there has been a significant drop in the number of active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted-living facilities in the province, a fact she attributed to the vaccination program.
"This is clear evidence of the effectiveness of the vaccines and extremely encouraging news," Henry said. "As new cases continue to decrease in long-term care, we also need to continue to decrease our transmission in our communities."
As of Friday, there were 16 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted-living facilities, as well as 6 in acute-care facilities in B.C.
Henry also announced a community outbreak at the Pretium Resources Brucejack Mine north of Stewart, B.C.
According to a news release from Northern Health, at least 22 cases of COVID-19 are associated with the outbreak, so far.
During Friday's update, Henry provided an update on the coronavirus "variants of concern" the province has detected.
A total of 46 cases of variants that originated in the U.K. and South Africa have been confirmed in the province so far, Henry said. Twenty-nine of those cases are the U.K. variant and 17 are the South African variant.
Researchers at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control screened every positive test for COVID-19 between Jan. 30 and Feb. 5 to check for variants of concern, Henry said. This screening of 3,099 tests found just three confirmed variant cases.
"This is reassuring," the provincial health officer said. "It tells us that we don't have high levels of transmission in our communities, but that we still need to be cautious and continue to monitor."
The province has also detected another variant - known as B.1.525 - that has been associated with travel to Nigeria. One person in Interior Health who recently returned from that country has tested positive for that variant and is isolating, Henry said.
"The emergence of these variants, of course, makes us all concerned in B.C.," she said, adding that celebrations of Lunar New Year and the Family Day long weekend should not be used as an excuse to gather with others in violation of public health orders.
"We are, in some ways, playing catch-up with this virus," Henry said. "Breaking those chains of transmission, preventing that next infection is what we need right now to buy us that time to get our immunization programs back up to speed again and to help give us that protection buffer against these new variant viruses that are emerging."
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