What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. for Jan. 14

·5 min read

THE LATEST:

  • On Thursday, B.C. health officials confirmed 536 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Another seven people have died.

  • The provincial death toll from COVID-19 reached 1,038.

  • There are 362 people in B.C. hospitals, including 74 in intensive care.

  • There are 4,624 active cases in the province.

  • To date, 69,746 people have received a COVID-19 vaccine in B.C.

  • B.C. has identified its first case of the infectious coronavirus variant first seen in South Africa.

  • B.C. is seeking legal advice on whether an inter-provincial travel ban is doable.Many British Columbians are still waiting for their B.C. Recovery Benefit payout.

  • B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix says a review is underway after some doctors in Vancouver jumped the queue to get a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has added her voice to those condemning businesses for denying Indigenous people entry due to COVID-19 fears, calling it racism.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix confirmed 536 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, and 4,624 active cases on Thursday.

Another seven deaths were reported Thursday, bringing the provincial to 1,038.

There are 4,624 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. There are 362 people in hospital with the coronavirus, including 74 in intensive care.

Two new outbreaks were declared Thursday while two more were declared over. There are 52 active outbreaks in long-term care as of Thursday and 12 active outbreaks in acute care.

Henry also announced that B.C. has detected its first case of the coronavirus variant that was first detected in South Africa.

Henry said a single person has been found to have the variant. That person had not recently travelled and an investigation is looking into how that person may have contracted it.

She added that testing has found four cases of the variant first discovered in the U.K.: three, she said, are connected to one traveller and the other is connected to a second traveller. She said she does not believe it has been spread to other people.

Seeking legal advice on travel ban

The B.C. government is getting legal advice to determine whether an inter-provincial travel ban is an option, legally, as a way to protect the province, as COVID-19 case numbers soar in other parts of Canada.

Premier John Horgan on Thursday said he and other leaders will be speaking about the issue later in the day and on Friday during a virtual, two-day cabinet retreat this week, with the goal to nail down which options the government can take — if any — by end of the summit.

He said he hopes to announce an update on the issue early next week.

Henry has added her voice to those condemning businesses for denying Indigenous people entry due to COVID-19 fears, calling it racism.

The CBC has learned that Save-On-Foods in Powell River, the Glen Lyon Restaurant in Port Hardy, and a dentist's office in Duncan all refused service to Indigenous people, citing cases of COVID-19 in their communities as a reason.

The businesses claimed they were trying to stop COVID-19 from spreading from nearby Indigenous communities.

Meanwhile, B.C.'s seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie is investigating to see what went wrong at Little Mountain Place in Vancouver — the location of B.C.'s deadliest care home outbreak. Forty-one residents infected with the virus have died, while 71 staff and 99 of 114 residents have tested positive.

While a million British Columbians have already received their B.C. Recovery Benefit, more than 400,000 others are still waiting for their applications to be approved. The tax-free cash payout can mean up to $1,000 dollars for eligible families and $500 dollars for individuals.

B.C.'s Finance Minister Selina Robinson said Wednesday that staff are working through a high volume of applications, and will continue to do so in the coming weeks.

Michael McArthur/CBC
Michael McArthur/CBC

Health Minister Adrian Dix says it's "very disappointing'' that some doctors in Vancouver jumped the queue to get a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Dix says there will be an investigation into these incidents. The province's vaccination strategy has been to maximize the number of people getting vaccinated by extending the interval between doses as far as possible.

Some doctors and nurses have expressed concern over the dose interval, though Henry herself has said it falls within national and World Health Organization recommendations.

B.C.'s health restrictions are in effect until at least Feb. 5 at midnight. The current orders include a ban on gatherings with people outside of one's immediate household. The province's non-essential travel advisory remains in place, including travel into and out of B.C., and between regions.

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What's happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 5 p.m. PT on Wednesday, Canada had reported 681,328 cases of COVID-19, with 79,293 cases considered active.

A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 17,383.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.

  • Cough.

  • Tiredness.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Loss of taste or smell.

  • Headache.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean.

  • Keep your distance from people who are sick.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.