B.C. reports 31 deaths from COVID-19 over three days, 65 new cases in Island Health

Nicholas Pescod/CHEK News
British Columbia health officials have reported 1,330 new cases – including 65 in Island Health – and 31 deaths from COVID-19 since their last update on Jan. 15.

British Columbia health officials have reported 1,330 new cases – including 65 in Island Health – and 31 deaths from COVID-19 since their last update on Jan. 15.

The number of confirmed cases in B.C. climbs to 61,447 while the province’s death toll now stands at 1,078.

Two of the 31 reported deaths were in Island Health.

From Friday to Saturday there were 584 new cases and 17 deaths, from Saturday to Sunday there were 445 new cases and nine deaths, and from Sunday to today (Jan. 18) there were 301 new cases and five deaths.

“It is an extraordinary and difficult time for people to lose loved ones for any reason, but particularly from COVID-19,” health minister Adrian Dix said on Monday.

Of the new cases, 281 were recorded in Vancouver Coastal Health, 548 were in Fraser Health, 65 in Island Health, 257 in Interior Health, and 166 in Northern Health. There were 13 cases identified in people who normally reside outside of Canada.

There are currently 4,326 active cases in the province, 343 people in hospital — 68 of whom are in intensive care — and 6,865 people under active public health monitoring due to possible exposure to an identified case.

Presently, there are 48 active outbreaks of COVID-19 in long-term care and assisted living facilities and 10 outbreaks in acute care units. involving 2,054 people in long-term care — 1,339 residents and 708 staff members.

Over 54,00 people in B.C. have recovered from COVID-19 while more than 87,300 doses of vaccine have been administered province-wide.

Of the more than 87,300 doses administered, 71,301 doses have been the Pfizer vaccine and 16,045 doses have been of the Moderna vaccine.

During Monday’s update, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, some of the 13 people who were infected that don’t normally reside in Canada were new temporary foreign workers who arrived in the province.

“We are continuing our program of providing quarantine accommodation in hotels and support for temporary foreign workers who are coming into B.C. to work in farms in the very important role that they play supporting our agriculture industry here in the province,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dix noted that it has nearly been one year since the province provided its first statement regarding COVID-19.

“It has been a long year,” he said, adding that while it has been a challenging year, it has also been a year where people have shown strength and perseverance during difficult times.

READ: COVID-19 vaccines and variants mean masks and social restrictions likely to stay until fall

Island Health

According to the latest data provided by Island Health, there are currently 177 active cases on Vancouver Island, an increase of two cases since Jan. 15.

There are currently 27 active cases on southern Vancouver Island, 130 on central Vancouver Island and 20 on northern Vancouver Island.

Over the course of the pandemic, the Island Health region has reported 1,276 cases.

A total of seven schools on Vancouver Island have reported either a COVID-19 exposure or cluster this month while two long-term care homes are currently experiencing outbreaks.

Source: Island Health

Southern Vancouver Island includes the Greater Victoria region, Southern Gulf Islands and the Port Renfrew area.

Central Vancouver Island includes the Cowichan Valley, Duncan, Nanaimo, Parksville, Port Alberni and Tofino areas.

Northern Vancouver Island goes from the Comox Valley to Port Hardy but also includes surrounding areas like Alert Bay and Sointula.

More COVID-19 vaccine on the way

During Monday’s update, Dr. Henry said the province received 46,675 doses of vaccine —28,275 doses from Pfizer and 18,400 doses from Moderna —over the past week and is expecting more to arrive this week.

“This week, we are expecting another 26,775 doses in total, including 24,375 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 2,400, the final installment of the doses we were meant to receive last week of the Moderna vaccine,” she said.

Henry said while Canada has received notice from Pfizer that there will be delays in vaccine shipments this week and next week.

“Next week is when we will be most affected,” she said. “We know that this delay will temporarily slow our delivery into the next phase of at-risk people, particularly into other parts of our hospital system,” she said.

Henry called the news “a bit of a setback” but said the province remains on track to expand the vaccination roll out to more people in April.

At the moment the focus is on providing second doses of the vaccine next week, with the goal of providing those most at risk with their first dose as soon as possible, said Henry.

“The program continues, our focus continues to be on immunizing all people who are at greatest risk and that includes residents and staff who work at care homes around the province as well as the key roles we have in our acute care facilities,” she said.

B.C.’s top doctor also stressed that while the vaccines are incredibly effective, individual efforts are still needed to ensure people remain safe and don’t get infected.

“As somebody who has been working in the vaccine world for 30 years, it is amazing to us that we can, in such a short period of time, develop a new technology that is 95 per cent effective in protecting somebody from a new disease and even more effective at preventing people from having severe illness and dying from COVID-19,” said Henry. “This is amazing to all of us and is what we need to focus on to keep us going through this period until more vaccine comes and we can protect more of our community. Right now it is our individual efforts that will have the biggest impact, we can’t yet rely on vaccine to protect all of us.”

MORE: Municipal councillors admit to recently travelling outside of Canada

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