VANCOUVER – Another 485 people in British Columbia are known to have the new coronavirus, health officials said in an update on Wednesday.
Speaking on an afternoon conference call, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the update over the past 24 hours has raised the provincial total to 51,300 cases since the pandemic began.
There are currently 7,551 cases considered active in BC Another 9,320 people are under active monitoring after being exposed to a known case.
That total may be higher, said Henry, as there has been no update from Northern Health in days.
The provincial health officer added that another 11 people died of the disease in the same period, bringing the total pandemic number to 893.
More than half of COVID-related deaths in BC occurred in the month of December.
The toll was 441 on November 30.
In addition, a record 379 patients are in the hospital due to COVID-19, 77 of whom are in intensive care units.
But Dr. Henry had some positive news to share: the Modern vaccine reached 10 remote and isolated First Nations communities, which were identified as “high risk”.
In Wednesday’s update, 14,027 had received the first dose. Henry herself was given the vaccine made by Pfizer earlier this month.
So far it’s not clear when the second dose will be available, since the BC chose not to follow the manufacturers’ advice – instead of holding a few bottles to use as a second dose, the province will distribute all the first doses and wait for more to arrive.
Also part of the most recent update was a new health order, in effect in BC for “just one day”. Henry is ordering the sale of alcoholic beverages in bars, shops, restaurants and other places to cease at 8 pm on New Year’s Eve.
Sales may resume normally on New Year’s Day.
The intention behind the order is to discourage parties until late at night, which Henry said could lead to “risky behavior”.
She warned earlier this week that it may seem that the number of BC’s daily cases is dropping, but testing for COVID-19 plunged as much as 50 percent during the holidays. Henry said he suspects this is partly due to the fact that people don’t want to find out they have it and have to isolate themselves from family and friends over Christmas and New Year.
This is news in development and will be updated.