13 deaths, 1,236 COVID-19 cases since Friday in B.C. | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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13 deaths, 1,236 COVID-19 cases since Friday in B.C.

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks to reporters, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/BC Government
February 08, 2021 - 3:58 PM

B.C. is turning its COVID-19 curve down for the time being, but new if variants of the disease start to take off it will be like the province is facing a new pandemic.

“What we have seen in places around the world — in the UK, Ireland, Portugal, some other countries in Europe and South Africa is a good example as well — is that it does change the game in some ways if it starts to take off and become dominant in the community,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, Feb. 8.

“I think all of us are dreading that.”

In B.C., there have been 40 cases of variants that scientists say are 30 per cent more transmissible. Only one of those cases is in the Interior Health region. Of all the cases, 25 were the UK variant and the rest were the South African variant.

Dr. Henry said while it's not yet been the case in B.C., there are some parts of Ontario where the variant is spreading quite widely and it's concerning to health officials.

“It’s having impacts that were quite devastating in long-term care homes, in particular, so we need to get a handle on it,” she said, seemingly referencing a Barrie, Ont. care home where 200 residents were infected with the variant.

“This is one of the main reasons why we are extending the restrictions that we have here in B.C, and I'm appealing to people to take notice. Again, we are all tired of this, but it can lead us into a brand new charge of increased numbers of cases if we don't keep doing what we're doing and I think people recognize that.” 

Since Friday there have been 1,236 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed — 152 of which were in Interior Health — raising the total since the start of the pandemic to 70,952.

The total number of people hospitalized with the disease is currently 234 — a significant drop from 381 at the beginning of January — and there were 13 more deaths.

“As we have seen the choices we make today, as well as the plans we make for tomorrow make a difference,” Henry said.

For the upcoming Family Day long weekend, Dr. Henry said B.C. residents all need to stay local and not travel, unless it is required for work or medical reasons.

She said she understands the many sacrifices people continue to make, and how limiting travel impacts the tourism sector across the province, but to re-open the economy there needs to be more positive changes in case counts.

“Our intent is to ease the restrictions that we have in place as soon as it is safe to do so,” she said. “We want to have that confidence that as we open up more as we have more social connections. We do not have to step back again.”

Once there are fewer cases and outbreaks as well as unchecked transmission, Dr. Henry will have been given the signal that the community is ready to open up.

“We are on track and that is why it is so important for all of us to continue doing what we're doing, and not throw away the progress that we have made,” she said.

“Our focus right now is to clear our path of those hurdles, so that we can ease the restrictions, as soon as possible.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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