B.C. health authorities report new COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes

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SURREY, B.C. — Three regional health authorities in British Columbia are reporting new COVID-19 outbreaks in assisted-living facilities and long-term care homes.

Interior Health says six residents and four staff members have tested positive for the illness at Heritage Square, a private facility in Vernon.

The health authority says each of the six residents live in the long-term care areas of the facility and their close contacts are in self-isolation.

Fraser Health is reporting two new outbreaks after two staff members tested positive for COVID-19 at Rideau Retirement Residence in Burnaby and another two staff tested positive at Brookside Lodge in Surrey.

And Island Health says one resident has tested positive at Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo, where the outbreak is limited to one unit on a floor that's been isolated from the rest of the facility.

B.C. health officials are expected to report the latest case numbers and on Tuesday, after confirming over the weekend the province's first known case of a more contagious COVID-19 variant that originated in the United Kingdom.

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a joint statement the person had returned from the U.K. to their home in the Island Health region on Dec. 15 and tested positive for COVID-19 four days later, after developing symptoms during self-isolation.

Although the U.K. variant appears to spread faster, they said, it's important to note there's no evidence suggesting the strain is more likely to cause severe illness or that vaccines approved by Health Canada will be any less effective in protecting people against COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 28, 2020.

The Canadian Press