British Columbia has reported 694 new cases of COVID-19 across the province in the last 24 hours.
Of the 694 new cases, 10 are linked to the Island Health region.
There are currently 9,103 active cases in British Columbia, while 10,849 residents remain under active public health monitoring.
The number of active cases revealed today marks the first time that B.C. has surpassed the 9,000 mark during the pandemic.
Dr. Bonnie Henry says that 325 are in hospital currently – a decrease of 12 from Wednesday – with 80 people in critical care as a result of the virus (increasing by one from Wednesday).
On Thursday, there were 12 additional deaths related to the virus, meaning the provincial total over the course of the pandemic has now reached 481.
B.C. has now reported 123 deaths from the virus over the past eight days, meaning that 25 per cent of the total number of deaths in B.C. has occurred in that span.
“My heartfelt condolences once again go out to the families, the care providers and the communities who have lost loved ones and we mourn with you,” said Dr. Henry during a live press conference.
Since Wednesday’s numbers, there have been 114 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 465 in the Fraser Health region, 10 in the Island Health region, 82 in the Interior Health region, 23 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.
As of Thursday, the total number of cases in British Columbia over the course of the pandemic has been 35,422.
Dr. Henry noted that there have been three new health-care facility outbreaks at Bailey House long-term care home, Gateway Lodge and University Hospital of Northern BC.
There are now 56 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and eight in acute care facilities.
The Island Health authority hasn’t posted the breakdown of numbers for Thursday, Dec. 3 at this time.
Provincial vaccine strategy
During the press conference, Dr. Henry took a moment to address the vaccine strategy that is being prepared in B.C.
“We are continuing to make progress on our B.C. COVID-19 vaccine strategy, Operation Immunize, and we have established now our emergency operations coordinating committee to lead the management and, very soon we hope, delivery of vaccines across our province,” Henry said.
Dr. Henry said that today, the team participated with provincial and federal counterparts on a remote tabletop exercise in order to walk through key steps of vaccine distribution.
The exercise, Henry said, is to address any problems or difficulties that may arise when a vaccine becomes available in the coming weeks.
“As vaccines become available, they will become our first step to protect people who are most at risk from severe illness and from death and to protect our healthcare system,” said Dr. Henry.
“We know we will have limited amounts at first, so we won’t be able to achieve what we broadly call community immunity right off the bat, but that will come.”
According to Dr. Henry, health officials are planning to make a vaccine widely available as soon as possible, but she stresses that, until that day comes, British Columbians must remain patient and vigilant with safety protocols.
Dr. Henry added during the live press conference that she expects full vaccination of British Columbians by September 21, 2020.
In addition to providing an update on vaccines, Dr. Henry took a moment to acknowledge the sacrifices that British Columbians have made amid this difficult time.
“You may feel like you are the only one, as it seems like there is lots out there – people who are not taking this seriously – but I know better,” said Dr. Henry.
“I know that we have seen sacrifices from people everywhere in B.C. and that you are all part of our team and that is what is making the difference for us. We need to stay all-in,” she added.
More COVID-19 information
If there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in a school, public health contacts affected school community members directly. Regional health authorities also post-school notifications on their websites, providing the date and type of notification (outbreak, cluster or exposure) for impacted schools.
The Island Health school site can be found here.
Island Health’s COVID-19 data breaks down North, Central and South Island case counts and lists the number of days since any new lab-diagnosed cases. You can find the data here along with any public exposures.
According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide is more than 65 million. More than 1.5 million deaths have been recorded.