B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there have now been seven cases of the so-called United Kingdom variant and four of the South African variant of COVID-19 in the province.
Two of the cases of the South African variant are linked, but there are also three individual cases which are “most concerning to us, and not associated with travel,” said Henry.
Responding to questions during Friday's media conference, Henry confirmed that spring break will need to be restricted to local activities this year.
“When we see the virus take off and cases take off, it means that the virus is replicating more often, more frequently,” she said. “It means even if it mutates slowly, those mutations can start to build and grow. So travel restrictions are one of those measures that helps us keep out new strains that could disrupt our ability here, but we all need to still do our own measures. You should not be thinking about international travel for vacations, for leisure in the next few months.”
Henry also announced 514 new cases today, including six that are epidemiologically linked, bringing B.C.’s total to 66,779 since the pandemic began.
Of the new cases, 134 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region (including Richmond), 223 in the Fraser Health region, 29 in the Island Health region, 71 in the Interior Health region and 57 in the Northern Health region.
The active case count continues to grow slowly, with 4,557 active cases reported today. There are 292 people in hospital with the virus, 74 of whom are in critical care. At least 7,000 people are under active public health monitoring.
Sadly, five more people died due to COVID-19, bringing that total to 1,189 in the province. There was one new healthcare outbreak declared, and three were declared over leaving 25 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living facilities and nine in acute care facilities. These outbreaks are currently affecting 926 residents and 520 staff members.
To date, 124,979 people have been vaccinated, and 4,262 of those people have also received a second dose. Henry said all longterm care residents and the people who care for them have been offered a vaccine, in all health authorities across province. There has been very high uptake, and a report will be released in early February with full details on vaccines at all facilities.
“It’s times like this when altruism is so important, and we have seen so much of that in this past year,” Henry said. “There is still joy and beauty in this world, even when we are faced with unrelenting uncertainty as we all have been in this past year.”
For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and to find a testing centre near you: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.
Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel