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B.C. surpasses 800 COVID-19 deaths, renews plea for safe Christmas celebrations

Last Updated Dec 24, 2020 at 4:21 pm PDT

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

B.C. is reporting 582 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, and 12 additional COVID related deaths

In their Christmas Eve statement, health officials repeated their call to follow guidelines, celebrate safely

More than 8,000 people have received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in B.C.

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C. health officials are repeating their plea for people to follow guidelines and celebrate Christmas safely, as another 12 people have died from the virus, bringing the provincial total up to 808.

In a statement Thursday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said 582 more people have tested positive, although no new outbreaks in healthcare facilities or the community have been recorded.

With in-person gatherings and church services banned through Jan. 8, Henry and Dix are offering suggestions for how to adapt celebrations.

“This Christmas and over the holiday weekend is the time to try the many new virtual activities that have been arranged this year – whether a church service, holiday choral concert or theatre performance,” the statement reads.

“Take a walk with those in your household and spread some cheer with neighbourhood carolling, or drop off a warm meal or holiday treats to someone who may be away from their family this year.”

The new cases announced are concentrated in the Fraser Health region, which recorded 326. However, new cases have been identified in all health regions with 107 in Vancouver Coatsal, 71 in INterior Health, 68 in Northern Health, and 10 in Island Health.

There are fewer people in hospital and ICU than there were Wednesday, with 341 and 78 respectively.

Dix and Henry also provided an update on vaccination, saying a total of 8,178 people have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine so far.

““In addition to our health-care workers, immunization of residents in long-term care is now also underway. Given seniors and Elders have been most severely impacted by this virus, this is welcome news for all of us,” the statement says.

One outbreak at a long-term care home, the Belvedere Care Centre in Coquitlam, has been declared over. However, outbreaks remain active at 54 care homes.

The Christams Eve statements ends with a reminder that how people choose to celebrate over the coming days will determine whether or not the curve continues to bend downward.

“By staying small and staying apart this holiday season, we’re protecting the people we care about most and ensuring the coming weeks and months are better, brighter and safer for everyone,” it concludes.