Coronavirus update: British Columbia suffers 49 more deaths on deadliest weekend in pandemic

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VANCOUVER – 49 more people died from COVID-19 in British Columbia over the weekend, setting a new record for the province.
Provincial health official Dr Bonnie Henry announced the dozens of deaths during a grim start to her coronavirus briefing on Monday, describing the losses as “a tragedy we all feel.”

“My condolences go out to families, caregivers and communities. We know this is a very difficult and difficult time and we mourn with you, ”said Henry.

Previously, the highest number of deaths recorded in a single weekend was 46, as announced just two weeks ago on December 1. The death toll in the province is now 647.

But there was also optimistic news, as Henry confirmed that British Columbia was preparing to distribute its first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.

“This is a new capital – the first step on our journey to protect those most at risk in our communities and take the strain off our health system,” she said.

Health officials also revealed that they plan to distribute the next shipment of the vaccine to every region of BC health authorities as early as next week. The first roughly 4,000 vaccines that arrived Monday are only being distributed in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health areas.

Officials previously cited logistical complications around Pfizer’s vaccine, which must be stored at extremely sub-zero temperatures, as the reason it would take longer to travel to other parts of the province.

Henry also stressed the need for people to continue to diligently follow COVID-19 precautions during the slow and gradual rollout of the vaccine, calling it his “biggest fear” that the public is slackening its efforts now that it there is hope on the horizon.

“We will save lives with every dose we give, but it is not yet enough to stop transmission in our community,” she said. “People are going to be exposed and some of them will get very sick, end up in our hospitals or end up dying at this point where we are so close.

Despite several weeks under strict public health orders meant to limit people’s social interactions, British Columbia continues to see several hundred new cases of COVID-19 per day.

2,146 more cases were identified over the weekend, including 698 from Friday to Saturday, 689 from Saturday to Sunday and 759 from Sunday to Monday.

Since the start of the pandemic, 42,943 infections have been identified in British Columbia and 31,207 people have recovered.

The latest infections have brought the province’s active case count to 10,039, setting a new record and marking the first time that number has exceeded 10,000. That number includes 359 inpatients, including 87 in intensive care or intensive care.

Another 11,177 people are under active public health surveillance after being exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19.

A major concern about the surge in cases in British Columbia has been the spread in long-term care homes that house elderly and vulnerable residents more prone to the worst symptoms of the disease. On Monday, Henry announced three more outbreaks, at Jubilee Lodge in Prince George, Fraserview Intermediate Care Lodge in Richmond and Villa Carital in Vancouver.

Six more have been declared over, leaving 62 active outbreaks in the province’s health care system, most in long-term care homes and assisted living facilities.

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