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B.C. surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 deaths

Last Updated Jan 11, 2021 at 8:13 pm PDT

Summary

B.C.'s death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic has surpassed 1,000

22 virus-related deaths have been recorded in B.C. since Friday

Dr. Bonnie Henry is defending the province's vaccination rollout, saying those most at risk are being immunized first

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – B.C. has marked a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, recording more than a 1,000 deaths related to the virus.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced on Monday that 22 people had died since Friday, bringing the provincial total to 1,010.

“These, of course, are our grandparents, our friends, our aunts, our uncles, our sons and daughters. To the families, care providers, and communities across British Columbia: we know that this has been a most challenging time. Our thoughts and our prayers are with you all,” Henry said.

B.C. recorded 1,475 new cases over the past three days, with the majority being in the Fraser Health region at 736.

There have been nine epidemiologically linked cases recorded over the same time frame.

“We currently have 5,220 active cases in all health authorities in British Columbia, of whom 358 are in hospital currently, 72 of whom are in critical care or ICU,” Henry said, adding 50,541 people have recovered from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Outbreaks declared over

Henry noted six new healthcare outbreaks have been reported in recent days, including at Avalon Gardens, The Gatehouse group home, the Guildford Seniors Village, Hart House long-term care, KinVillage West Court, and Suncreek Village. Four outbreaks have been declared over at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital, Baillie House, Chartwell Langley Gardens, and Lakeshore Care Centre.

“We know how challenging those outbreaks have been in all three of those long-term care homes where we’ve had numbers of people, our seniors, who have died from the virus in those outbreaks. It’s always challenging,” she said.

In total, there are 50 active outbreaks in the long-term care and assisted living sectors in B.C.

Vaccine efforts

As of Sunday, B.C. had delivered 59,902 COVID-19 vaccines to people in this province.

Henry said the vaccine approach B.C. is taking is based on the supply that is available. It prioritizes those who are at higher risk of severe illness or those who are at a higher risk of catching or spreading the virus, such as health-care workers.

“And this has been the approach that we’ve been taking, recognizing that we have a limited amount of vaccine that is coming between now and the end of March. Everybody is important in British Columbia, and everyone who is wanting the vaccine and is able to receive the vaccine will have access to it. But, we know that some people are at higher risk and that is why they are getting immunized first,” she explained, adding there is not enough supply coming between now and the end of March “to achieve that community immunity that protects us all.”

Henry also took the opportunity on Monday to defend the province’s move to start giving the second doses of COVID-19 vaccines at day 35.

She said the decision was a “science-based approach” and “takes into account the limited vaccine we have early on in the program here in the province.”

“As we know, when someone receives the vaccine, it stimulates our own body’s immune system to produce antibodies to that antigen, that protein, and these new vaccines that we have — messenger RNA vaccines — have proven to be very effective at doing that. When you provide the second dose, that’s what we call priming the immune system with the first dose. The second dose in a two-dose series like this is to provide more durable and longer-lasting, for a longer period of time, immunity. That’s what we call a boost, and we call this a prime boost,” Henry explained.

She noted waiting in between doses gives the body time to build up that immunity.