B.C. records 471 new cases of COVID-19 and 6 more deaths

·3 min read
Ben Nelms/CBC

B.C. health officials announced 471 new cases of COVID-19 and six more deaths on Friday.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 253 people, 70 of whom are in intensive care.

A total of 1,246 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

There are currently 4,423 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with public health monitoring 6,886 people across B.C. who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. More than 62,567 people who tested positive have recovered.

No new health-care facility outbreaks were declared on Friday.

So far, 149,564 people have received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 10,366 of those being second doses.

Henry and Dix said in in their statement that numbers announced Friday were encouraging, that B.C. is slowly bending the rate of infections down.

"Let's continue to push our curve down — today, tomorrow, this weekend and next, so we can get to the brighter, safer days ahead," they said.

Meanwhile, Interior Health has also provided updates on two community clusters in the region that continue to grow.

Four more cases have been confirmed in the resort community at Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna, bringing the total number of cases to 235 since the cluster was detected in December. The health authority's medical health officer, Dr. Silvina Mema, said measures introduced to bring transmission under control appear to have worked and the situation seems to be "stabilizing."

Another 16 cases have been detected in the cluster centred in and around Williams Lake, bringing the total number of cases in that community to 391 since Jan. 1.

Restrictions extended

The new numbers come hours after Henry announced that current orders restricting daily life and socialization in B.C. will stay in place indefinitely.

The orders had been set to expire at midnight, but the province's top doctor said although there are encouraging signs that the rate of infections is ebbing, the threat of more contagious variants means keeping people apart.

"We want a smooth, flat path to the finish with few, if any, hurdles of outbreaks or unchecked transmission in our community," she said in Friday's statement. "We are not quite there yet, but we are getting closer every day."

For nearly three months, people in B.C. have been banned from gathering with people who don't live in the same household. In the case of those living alone, they have alone been allowed to see one or two other people only.

Data released Friday from the latest round of modelling shows the COVID-19 reproductive number hovering around one in every health authority.

That means that each case is still leading on average to at least one other case.

Henry said the situation in B.C. could take a serious turn for the worse if social interactions increase too quickly, or if new and more contagious variants begin spreading.

In 4,500 positive cases tested since Dec. 1, variants from South Africa and the U.K. were detected in 28 samples.