18 more people die of COVID-19 in B.C., as 617 new cases confirmed

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B.C. health officials announced 617 new cases of COVID-19 and 18 more deaths on Friday.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said 358 people are in hospital, 75 of whom are in intensive care.

A total of 988 people in B.C. have died due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

There are currently 6,118 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with public health monitoring 8,755 people who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure.

A total of 46,529 people have now received a vaccine dose.

The province conducted 9,345 tests in the past 24 hours — the highest number since Dec. 19 — producing a 7.8 per cent positivity rate.

Testing plummeted over the holidays, with fewer than 4,000 tests done on Boxing Day.

The province has confirmed 56,632 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. More than 48,000 people who tested positive have recovered.

B.C. declared an end to five outbreaks at Amenida Senior Community, North Peace Seniors Housing, Rotary Manor, Royal Arch Masonic Home and Tabor Home. Fraser Health also declared an outbreak over at Lakeshore Care Centre in Coquitlam.

On Saturday, Fraser Health declared outbreaks at Suncreek Village and Guildford Seniors Village in Surrey. One resident and one staff member at Suncreek Village, and two staff members at Guildford Seniors Village have tested positive for COVID-19.

Also on Saturday, Island Health declared an outbreak at Hart House long-term care home in Victoria. One staff member who worked in the home has tested positive for COVID-19. Contact tracing is underway to identify any possible exposures. In the meantime, all 17 residents are isolating in their suites as staff implement measures to protect them.

The province extended on Thursday its ban on in-person events and gatherings until Feb 5.

Henry and Dix asked people to stay local, only spend time with people in their immediate household outside of work or school, physically distance and wear masks in all indoor, public spaces.

"Most British Columbians have been doing their part, and we know it is frustrating when a few people put so many others at risk," they wrote.

"Despite this, it is important to know your sustained efforts are saving lives. It will get us that much closer to the days without COVID-19.

The province also announced several changes and improvements Thursday to the way it collects and releases pandemic data to the public, including a plan to once again release individual case and death counts at long-term care homes.

Residents in B.C.'s long-term care facilities have accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total deaths in B.C. from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.