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B.C.'s COVID-19 curve levelling, virus variant requires caution: top doctor

FILE - Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry during a COVID-19 briefing Dec. 10, 2020. (Courtesy Government of B.C./Flikr)

B.C. records 1,667 over three-day period, 41 deaths

Dr. Bonnie Henry said most of the people who died are residents in long-term care

Henry said a new strain of the virus is concerning, but the medical community is still trying to understand more

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — B.C. is starting to level its curve again in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the provincial health officer says, but it’s happening at a very high level.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday the virus continues to spread, particularly in the Lower Mainland where the majority of new infections have been reported, but the Interior and Northern Health regions are also seeing larger transmission events.

“We continue to see hundreds of new people each day with confirmed cases, and they expose others,” she said. “Restrictions that we’ve had in place the number of people who’ve had close contact has decreased, but it is still a substantial number.”

Since Friday, 1,667 new infections were reported, and another 41 people died because of the virus. In comparison to last Monday, the province saw 479 fewer new COVID-19 infections in the weekend total.

What new strain of COVID-19 means for B.C.

Following reports of a new mutation of the coronavirus in the U.K., Henry explained the medical community is still trying to understand more about it.

“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,” Henry said — adding the virus mutates slowly compared to others.

She admits it’s worrisome, and said Canada’s restriction of inbound flights from the U.K. was necessary in order to determine what the country needs to do in terms of protective measures.

The strain hasn’t been identified in Canada, and it will be closely monitored, Henry said.

RELATED: B.C. set for regular COVID-19 vaccine deliveries; 21 deaths, 673 infections reported

Henry said it doesn’t change much for the province’s approaching to fighting COVID-19 at this point, however, she noted there aren’t enough vaccines to protect everyone right now.

While the vaccine has made it to all parts of the province, and last week 3,644 people were immunized in B.C., Henry said everyone needs to be cautious do their part of stop chains of transmission whether its a new strain of the transmission or not.

“What we’ve seen so far, is that things are changing quickly, and will continue to change quickly as we get a better sense of how much vaccine is coming when,” Henry said.

Two Coastal GasLink COVID-19 outbreaks

While there have been dozens of active outbreaks in health-care facilities, Henry noted most of those who lost their lives were residents in long-term care.

She reported another five outbreaks in healthcare but said the same number of outbreaks are also over.

There are two new outbreaks in the community, both at Coastal GasLink locations. Henry said the health authority is working with Pacific Atlantic Pipeline Construction Ltd. to address concerns, such as staffing and COVID-19 safety plans.

The number of patients in hospital because of the virus remains high at 341, with 80 in critical care.

Since the pandemic starts in the province, 765 people have died because of COVID-19 and 47,067 cases have been confirmed.