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COVID-19 claims life of infant in Interior Health

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks to reporters, Monday, April 26, 2021.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Province of B.C.
April 26, 2021 - 3:59 PM

An infant living within the Interior Health region died from causes related to COVID-19, B.C. health officials said today.

The death occurred in an undisclosed Southern Interior city this January and will be included in the B.C. Centre for Disease Control surveillance report later this week, but little more will be made known about it.

“The family has been notified, and Interior Health is working with them," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, April 26. "Privacy, of course, of the family, is paramount and we won't be adding any additional information, but (we're) just recognizing the tragedy about a young life lost.”

The baby would be the youngest person to have died of the disease in B.C. Last week, Dr. Henry said a toddler in the Fraser Health region died from COVID-19. That child had been getting specialized care at BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver.

The death’s connection to COVID-19 was discovered weeks later because any sudden unexpected death is investigated by the coroner's service, to understand the cause of death, she said.

“Since the start of this pandemic in March of 2020 we have been working with the coroner's office to establish a protocol that includes a COVID-19 assessment… for all sudden unexpected death investigations across B.C.,” Dr. Henry said. “As always, the coroner's investigation can take several weeks to months to complete, depending on the complexity of the situation. And should it be determined that COVID-19 was either a direct cause or one of the underlying factors in the death the coroner has a process where the families are notified, and the information is reported to public health in our COVID-19 data reporting.”

Of the several hundred deaths since last March investigated in this way, only a small number have been connected to COVID-19. This infant was among that small number.

Dr. Henry offered assurances that the infant’s death is not a sign that there's a hidden uptick of deaths related to this disease, despite a recent spike in cases and reports from other parts of the country indicating people are dying at home alone from COVID-19.

“We have been working closely with the coroner's office and we have not seen an increase in sudden unexpected deaths related to COVID,” she said. “I will remind everybody that if you have COVID-19 and you're isolating at home if you have any health concerns, you can call 811 to get support and advice.

“You can call 911. If you have shortness of breath or any other concerning symptoms in need of care, and this goes for anybody with COVID or with other health conditions, our hospitals are absolutely stretched, right now, but our doctors and nurses and care staff are there to provide the service that people need. Our emergency departments are ready and active and safe for people to go to, whether it's for COVID or for non-COVID related emergencies.”

Case numbers remained high today but weren’t record-breaking as they had been in recent weeks.

From Friday to Saturday B.C. had 881 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed, from Saturday to Sunday there were an additional 847 new cases, and in the last 24 hours 763 new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed raising the total to 2,491 new cases diagnosed over the weekend and 126,249 since the start of the pandemic.

Of these cases, 206 were within Interior Health.

There are currently 8,199 active COVID-19 cases in the province, 484 people are in hospital, with 158 of them in critical care or ICU. Seventeen more people died.

Two of the people who passed away over the weekend were over the age of 90, seven were in the 80- to 89-year-old age range, five were in the 70 to 79 year old age group, there were two in the 60 to 69-year-old age range, and one person was in the 50 to 59 year age range.

"Again, this shows us how devastating this virus can be on people who are older," she said.

Dr. Henry said, to date, B.C. has delivered 1,635,372 doses of the three COVID-19 vaccines across B.C. with 89,035 second doses being delivered.

That said, Dr. Henry added that B.C. is far from having community immunity, and even if you’ve had your jabs it will take some time for your own immune system will kick in. 

“We all, right now, need to continue to do those things that prevent our transmission of the virus from us to somebody else,” she said.

And, she said, for all the talk of variants, it’s more important to simply prevent infection of all kinds.

“No matter which strain of the virus we’re infected with, COVID-19 is not about where the virus mutations come from, whether they were initially detected in India or in Brazil, or the UK, it really is about the things that we do now that prevent transmission with whatever virus we have at the moment,” she said.

“That means to stay local in our communities to reduce the number of contexts we have to always use our layers of protection.”

That includes wearing masks, keeping a safe distance from people and getting a vaccine when it is our turn.

“We need to keep doing all of these things for the next few weeks, until we can get everybody protected from COVID-19,” she said.

“We need to remember to be kind to each other, to stay calm, even though it is challenging, and to stay safe.”

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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