COVID-19 update: B.C. records 41 deaths and 1,667 cases over the weekend
VANCOUVER -- British Columbia recorded another 41 deaths from COVID-19 over the weekend, as well as 1,667 new infections.
Monday's update from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry brings B.C.'s death toll to 765, and the total number of cases identified so far in the pandemic to 47,067.
Most of the deaths involved residents of seniors' homes, Henry said, in another dire reminder of the province's ongoing struggle to keep COVID-19 out of long-term care facilities.
"This weekend, families, care providers and communities have lost loved ones," Henry said. "We mourn with you and we feel your loss."
Health officials also announced five new outbreaks in seniors' homes, at Fleetwood Villa, Nicola Lodge, Mayfair Senior Living, the Gardens at Qualicum Beach and Heritage Retirement Residence. Five others were declared over.
B.C.'s latest COVID-19 cases were identified over three reporting periods: 652 were confirmed from Friday to Saturday, followed by 486 from Saturday to Sunday and 529 from Sunday to Monday.
Another 1,856 people recovered from COVID-19 over the same period, pushing the province's number of active cases – which hovered around 10,000 for much of last week – down to 9,718.
B.C.'s rolling weekly average for COVID-19 cases has also dropped below 600 per day for the first time since Nov. 15. The province recorded an average of 589 cases per day over the last seven days.
Hospitalizations decreased to 341, down from a record of 362 that was set last Wednesday. The number of patients in intensive care units also dropped to 80, down from a provincial high of 93 last Tuesday.
In even more optimistic news, Henry announced that new shipments of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine were delivered to every health authority in the province on Monday. That's after B.C. was able to distribute 3,644 doses in the Lower Mainland last week, mostly to health-care workers.
As 2021 nears, Henry said more specific details on B.C.'s vaccine supplies and eligibility will be shared with the public "as information becomes available."
Health officials also addressed the new coronavirus variant that led Canada to cancel flights from the U.K. over the weekend, stressing that while the mutated virus appears to spread more easily, there's no evidence to suggest it causes more severe illness.
Henry said the temporary halting of U.K. flights gives Canadian officials "time to put in appropriate protective measures," noting that neither B.C. nor Canada has detected the U.K. variant so far.
Monday's update was one of two live briefings that provincial health officials plan to deliver this week ahead of Christmas, with the next scheduled on Wednesday.
Health Minister Adrian Dix once again urged the public to follow the province's public health orders over the holidays, which for most people will mean celebrating only with members of their own household.
"COVID-19 is ruthless in its mission to spread," Dix said. "Our primary job is to stop the spread, and we do it by bending the curve, not the rules."