1,667 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. since Friday; 41 deaths | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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1,667 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. since Friday; 41 deaths

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks to reporters at a news conference, Dec. 17, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
December 21, 2020 - 3:50 PM

Interior Health more than doubled its COVID-19 death toll this weekend, B.C.’s health minister announced today.

Since Friday, there were 41 deaths across the province, and nine of those were in the Interior Health region.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the region had only suffered eight deaths due to COVID-19 since the pandemic got underway and the weekend death toll was a demonstration of how much damage can be done once the disease gets into care homes.

“Today is our most tragic report since the beginning of this devastating pandemic," Interior Health Authority president and CEO Susan Brown said in a media release. "Some passed peacefully in long-term care while others were in hospital, and in each case, I share sincere condolences to their loved ones and caregivers.

"It’s never easy to lose a member of our community, especially now after we have come so far in the fight against COVID-19. I urge everyone to redouble your efforts and focus on the important public health guidance that can prevent the spread of COVID-19 so that we may protect ourselves and loved ones this holiday season.”

There have seven deaths associated with the outbreak at the McKinney Place long-term care home in Oliver, four new deaths since Friday's update. There are 73 cases at the extended care facility, including 53 residents and 20 staff.

In addition to a growing number of deaths, the pandemic caseload continued to rise significantly. From Friday to Saturday, B.C. had 652 new cases, from Saturday to Sunday there were an additional 486 and from Sunday to today, Dec. 21, there were 529 new cases. All in all, that added up to 1,667 people diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past three days, and 189 of which were from Interior Health.

While the numbers painted a bleak picture, there was good news today. Top of the list was that vaccines have arrived in every health authority across the province.

Also, the more infectious variant of COVID-19 that appeared in the UK that prompted Canada to temporarily ban travel from the country has yet to show up in Canada, let alone B.C.

“We have seen from the very beginning with this virus that it does mutate —as we expect with RNA viruses in particular — and this one mutates relatively slowly,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

What is being seen in the UK is a new variant that has as many as 17 mutations in parts of the virus, Dr. Henry said.

“The evidence has shown that so far it does not seem to increase the severity of illness, however, it does seem to mean that the virus can transmit more easily,” Dr. Henry said. “That's something that we're still trying to understand, and figure out, and it could be because one of the changes made the virus more easily able to attach to those receptors that allow the virus to get into our body and start the infectious process.”

Dr. Henry said the other important thing to note is that so far this these changes don't seem to cause more severe disease, and don't seem to interfere with the ability of the vaccine to give people protection nor does it seem to affect the ability of the test to pick up the virus.

“Those are good things however we will be watching very carefully and monitoring this over the coming days and weeks,” she said.

There have been 283 new cases in the Vancouver Coastal health region, 1,084 people were in the Fraser Health region, 21 were in Vancouver Island and 90 people were in the Northern Health region.

B.C. now has 9,718 active cases in all areas of the province, 341 are in hospital and 80 are in critical care or ICU.

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