COVID-19 variants still of concern as B.C. reports 1,236 new cases over weekend

Interior Health continues to report approximately 50 cases of COVID-19 per day

B.C. saw 1,236 new cases of COVID-19 over the three-day weekend reporting period, an average of 412 new cases per day.

The province is down to 3,976 active cases, down below the 4,000-case mark for the first time since early November, when daily case counts began shooting upwards.

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The number of British Columbians in hospital has fallen some, as well, down to 234 in hospital with 69 of those patients in critical care.

The province also reported 13 additional deaths, bringing the province's death toll to 1,259 since the pandemic began.

Of the new cases, 152 are in those who live in the Interior Health region. That figure is on par with recent weeks, with the region averaging around 50 new cases per day.

Outbreaks in the city continue to produce cases.

The outbreak at Royal Inland Hospital now stands at 102 total cases, affecting 66 staff and 36 patients, with 46 cases still active. Interior Health says the outbreak has been contained to the hospital's COVID-19 ward.

The most recent outbreak, at group home Westsyde Care Residences, has produced 26 cases, with 24 of those still active. Affected there are 14 residents and 12 staff.

Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Home, meanwhile, stands at 25 total cases with two active cases remaining.

Elsewhere in the province there were 266 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 601 in Fraser Health, 86 in Vancouver Island Health and 131 in Northern Health.

The province has now had 70,952 total cases. Of those, 65,605 have recovered.

Another 6,900 people are under active public health monitoring due to exposure to confirmed cases.

Variants of concern

During Monday's update from Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, the concern over variant strains of the virus continued.

Henry said the province now has 40 variant cases, but only three remain active.

Of those cases, 25 are the U.K. variant, with 15 in the Fraser Health region, five in Vancouver Coastal Health and one in Interior Health.

Most of the U.K. variant cases are related to Travel, Henry said, but one remains of unknown origin.

The South Africa variant has produced 15 cases in B.C., with 13 in Vancouver Coastal Health and two in Fraser Health. Henry said it is "concerning for us" that four of those cases remain of unknown origin.

She said public health has done extensive contact tracing on these cases and she is confident there has been no onward spread.

Henry said further spread of the variants would be a game changer.

"What we have seen in places around the world ... is that it does change the game in some ways if it starts spreading in the community," she said.

"I think some of us are dreading that."

On the vaccine front, supply-related delays continue, but Henry said she expects vaccine shipments to the province will increase every week this month.

To date, the province has administered 154,496 doses of either the Pfizer of Moderna vaccines, with 12,111 of those being second doses.

Henry said she anticipates B.C. will be able to fully start its mass vaccination campaign in March for those age 80 and older.

© Kamloops This Week



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