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B.C. confirms more cases of contagious COVID-19 variants

Last Updated Feb 2, 2021 at 3:56 pm PST

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 11, 2020 file photo, a technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York's Long Island. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

More cases of the variants linked to the U.K. and South Africa have been confirmed in B.C.

Since Friday, 1,158 COVID-19 infections were recorded in B.C. and 21 people died from the virus

Dr. Bonnie Henry urges everyone to watch the Super Bowl safely this weekend, meaning only with immediate households

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The province has confirmed more cases of two more transmissible variants of the COVID-19 virus in B.C.

On Monday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said seven more cases of the B117 variant, first identified in the U.K, were reported over the weekend, bringing the total to 14. She said there are four infections of the B1351 variant, linked to South Africa.

She said three of the South African variant infections were community cases and one was a close contact.

In response to the variants, Henry explained the province is conducting random sampling to find possible instances of the mutations in areas with increased cases and outbreaks

RELATED: Maple Ridge school COVID-19 case had ‘close contact’ with case of virus variant

A close contact of a confirmed variant case attended Maple Ridge’s Garibaldi Secondary, prompting the health authority to intervene.

“We have concern that [the variants] may spread more easily than we are seeing with other strains of this virus,” Henry said. “We have now worked with Fraser Health and the laboratory in Fraser Health to do testing on all of the cohort that was with that person in the school.”

Since Friday, 1,158 infections were confirmed, including 277 — the lowest number since the end of October — in the last 24 hours.

Twenty-one lives were lost to the virus over the weekend, bringing the total to 1,210 since the start of the pandemic.

There are 24 active outbreaks in long-term care and eight in acute care.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the Ministry of Health will bring in the Red Cross “to support the quality of life” in long-term care homes, with teams of about 20 people will come in for up to four weeks per site.

Super Bowl Sunday warning

Henry noted an increase in COVID-19 infections between people aged 18 to 40 years old for “a variety of reasons.” Some exposure is related to the workplace, but she said many of the cases are linked to social exposures.

With the Super Bowl on Sunday, Lunar New Year around the corner, and Spring Break weeks away, Henry once again urged safe celebrations while vaccinations are still underway.

“I am calling on everybody right now: hold off on the Super Bowl celebrations,” she said.

If health measures are followed in restaurants and bars, Henry said they should be safe, but that doesn’t mean people should be going out with different groups of people. Under current provincial health orders, British Columbians are to only gather with their immediate household.

“It’s safe to watch the Super Bowl, but do it with your household, do it in a way that doesn’t increase the risk to everybody,” she said.

“We don’t yet have enough people protected that we aren’t going to get spillover into people who are going to end up in hospital and, unfortunately, have serious illness from COVID.”

To date, 138, 892 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, as well as 4,491 second shots.

B.C. is still working with a limited supply of vaccines this week. Henry said shipments will pick up over the course of the month.

On Feb. 5, the current health order is set to expire and can be extended again or updated.