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BC health officials: post-holiday growth may still come

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 4:48 PST, Mon January 4, 2021

BC health authorities released four days’ worth of COVID-19 data today, but acknowledged that a post-holiday growth in new cases may still be to come.

The increase in new cases is because of the time between exposure and testing positive, said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. There are also fewer people being tested during the holidays, she added. 

Henry announced 2,211 new cases over the period: 565 from Thursday to Friday, 607 Friday to Saturday, 500 between Saturday and Sunday, and a further 539 in the last 24 hours. Twenty-two of the cases were epidemiologically linked, bringing BC’s cumulative total to 54,201. Based on the number of tests conducted over the last four days, the positivity rate is 8.60 per cent.

Of the new cases, 389 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region (including Richmond), 1,301 in the Fraser Health region, 64 in the Island Health region, 288 in the Interior Health region and 169 in the Northern Health region. 

Sadly, 45 people lost their lives to COVID-19 over the weekend, most of whom were seniors and elders in longterm care as well as some cases in the community. Henry said at least two First Nations elders passed away in the last few days due to the virus.

The number of active cases dropped significantly to 6,823. There are 351 people in hospital, 76 of whom are in critical care. A further 8,785 people are being monitored by public health across four health regions—the Northern Health region is still exempt from this statistic due to a data system transfer.

There were six new healthcare outbreaks announced and six declared over, leaving 60 active outbreaks in the sector—52 in longterm care or assisted living facilities and eight in acute care facilities. These outbreaks are currently affecting 1,427 residents and 758 staff members. One new community outbreak was declared at a homeless shelter in Chilliwack, and another outbreak at a shelter was declared over.

To date, 24,139 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Twenty per cent of those vaccinated are residents of longterm care, 48 per cent are staff of longterm care, and 27 per cent are healthcare workers.

Henry described in greater detail the vaccination process, saying BC received its first dose of the Moderna vaccine last week with 20,500 doses. Small amounts were given to each health authority, with 8,800 doses being designated for the First Nations Health Authority.

She said a mass vaccination strategy will be based on age, in descending five-year cohorts after people over age 80 have been immunized. More details on the plan for the majority of the population will be released later this month.

For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.

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