COVID-19 update: B.C. reports 74 deaths and 2,206 cases since Christmas Eve
VANCOUVER -- British Columbia has lost another 74 lives to COVID-19 since Christmas Eve, health officials announced Tuesday in their first update in five days.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also revealed 2,206 new coronavirus infections were recorded over the same period, including 447 from Christmas Day to Boxing Day.
B.C. has now recorded 50,815 cases of COVID-19 and suffered 882 fatalities since the start of the pandemic. Henry, who choked up while delivering news of the latest deaths, pointed to the province's ongoing struggle to protect seniors in long-term care from the disease.
"Our condolences go out to all the families who are mourning their loss, to the care providers and to the communities who have lost loved ones," she said. "We know that this is the most challenging time to deal with these issues, not only because of COVID but because of the time of year. We mourn with you and feel your loss intensely."
The province has declared eight new outbreaks in seniors' homes since last Thursday, including recent outbreaks at the Rideau Retirement Residence in Burnaby and Brookside Lodge in Surrey.
Others at PICS Assisted Living, Courtyard Terrace, Agassiz Seniors Community and Fort Langley Seniors Community have been declared over, leaving 56 active outbreaks in long-term care homes and assisted living facilities.
There are also eight ongoing outbreaks in acute care centres, including Vancouver General Hospital and University Hospital of Northern B.C.
The province's latest infections were identified over five 24-hour reporting periods: 512 were recorded from Thursday to Friday, followed by 447 from Friday to Saturday, 424 from Saturday to Sunday, 442 from Sunday to Monday and 382 from Monday to Tuesday.
The province does not provide daily breakdowns for COVID-19 deaths, but recorded an average of almost 15 per day since Christmas Eve.
Some 3,391 people recovered from the disease over the same period, which helped push the province's number of active cases down to 7,580 – the lowest it's been since Nov. 25.
B.C.'s seven-day average for new cases also continued its downward trend, reaching an average of 472 per day over the last week. That's the lowest it's been since Nov. 9.
But Henry cautioned the lower case average doesn't necessarily mean infections are decreasing.
"People have not been going for testing as much. We know across the province people going for testing has been down by as much as 50 per cent," she said.
Hospitalizations also increased to a record high of 373 Tuesday, up from 341 on Christmas Eve, while the number of patients in intensive care remained relatively stable at 80.
With New Year's Eve coming up, Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix urged the public to follow the rules and avoid gatherings – particularly now that the U.K. COVID-19 variant has arrived in the province.
"This virus is even more infectious, potentially, with this variant. So it means we have to be even more adherent (to restrictions)," Henry said.
Henry also provided an updated on the province's vaccine rollout, revealing 11,930 doses of Pfizer's vaccine have now been distributed across B.C. The first doses of Moderna's vaccine arrived in the province on Tuesday, and more shipments are expected in the coming days.
"The timing is a little bit in flux, partly due to scheduling but also weather, of course, across the country at this time of year," Henry said.
The initial doses of Moderna's vaccine are going to remote and isolated First Nations communities that have been selected as recipients.
Officials also revealed two of B.C.'s vaccine recipients had an allergic reaction. Both individuals were treated and have fully recovered.
Henry called the reactions "not unexpected given what we have learned about the messenger RNA vaccines and what we have seen in other jurisdictions."