More than 14,000 vaccines administered in B.C.; 11 COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours
A woman wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as they walk past the emergency department of the Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
VANCOUVER -- Another 485 people in British Columbia are known to have the novel coronavirus, health officials said in an update Wednesday.
Speaking at a teleconference in the afternoon, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the update from the last 24 hours brings the provincial total to 51,300 cases since the start of the pandemic.
There are currently 7,551 cases considered active in B.C. Another 9,320 people are under active monitoring after being exposed to a known case.
That total could be higher, Henry said, as there hasn't been an update from Northern Health in days.
The provincial health officer added that another 11 people have died of the disease in the same time period, bringing the total toll of the pandemic up to 893.
More than half of COVID-related deaths in B.C. occurred in the month of December.
The toll was at 441 on Nov. 30.
Additionally, a record high of 379 patients are in hospital due to COVID-19, 77 of whom are in intensive care units.
But Dr. Henry had some positive news to share: the Moderna vaccine has arrived in 10 remote and isolated First Nations communities, which were identified as being "high risk."
As of Wednesday's update, 14,027 had received the first dose. Henry herself was given the vaccine made by Pfizer earlier this month.
So far it's unclear when the second dose will be available, as B.C. has opted not to follow the manufacturers' advice – instead of holding on to some vials to use as a second dose, the province will give out all of the first doses then wait for more to arrive.
Also part of the latest update was a new health order, in effect in B.C. for "one day only." Henry is ordering the sale of liquor at bars, stores, restaurants and elsewhere to cease at 8 p.m. on New Year's Eve.
Sales can resume as usual on New Year's Day.
The intent behind the order is to discourage partying late into the night, which Henry said can lead to "risky behaviour."
She warned earlier this week that it may appear B.C.'s daily caseload is dipping, but testing for COVID-19 dipped as much as 50 per cent over the holidays. Henry said she suspects this is due in part to people not wanting to find out they have it and have to isolate from family and friends over Christmas and New Year's.
This is a developing news story and will be updated.