"Every time you follow the rules, you save people's lives..."

Provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, announces new virus cases on April 18, 2020. (Province of BC/Flickr)

 Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response in British Columbia:

"Today, we are reporting on new cases of COVID-19 from Dec. 24 through to Dec. 29.

"From Dec. 24 to 25, we had 512 new cases. From Dec. 25 to 26, we had 447 new cases. From Dec. 26 to 27, we had 424 new cases. From Dec. 27 to 28, we had 441 new cases and in the last 24 hours, we had 382 new cases.

"This represents 2,206 new cases over the five-day period, including 25 epi-linked cases, for a total of 50,815 cases in British Columbia.

"There are 7,580 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 373 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 80 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.

"Currently, 9,414 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and a further 41,175 people who tested positive have recovered.

"Since we last reported, we have had 378 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,375 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 44 in the Island Health region, 238 in the Interior Health region, 171 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

"Since the start of immunizations, 11,930 people have received a COVID-19 vaccine in B.C. The Moderna vaccine, the second approved vaccine in Canada, will arrive in British Columbia this week, with the first doses targeted for remote and isolated First Nations communities and residents of long-term care.

"There have been 74 new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 882 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We have had eight new health-care facility outbreaks at Brookside Lodge, Rideau Retirement Residence, The Emerald at Elim Village, Heritage Square, Noric House, Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence, University Hospital of Northern British Columbia and Vancouver General Hospital. The outbreaks at PICS Assisted Living, Courtyard Terrace, Agassiz Seniors Community and Fort Langley Seniors Community are over.

"The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has identified the first case of a person in B.C. infected with the COVID-19 U.K. variant. The person and their close contacts are isolating and receiving care from public health teams. The case was identified as part of the ongoing whole genome sequencing that has been done since the start of the pandemic.

"What we know is this variant spreads more quickly than the other mutations we have had here in B.C. This is why adhering to the public health orders and restrictions, particularly abiding by the federal quarantine order and avoiding all non-essential travel, is so important.

"The majority of people in B.C. are following the public health orders we have in place. This meant that for most of us, this past weekend was a quiet weekend, with our immediate household only.

"To give our front-line health-care workers the reprieve they deserve, we need to make this entire holiday season a quiet holiday season, including our New Year's celebrations.

"The turning of the calendar to 2021 is something we are all looking forward to. The way to ensure we are in the best possible position going into January 2021 is to make it a safe New Year for everyone.

"Every time you follow the rules, you save people's lives. Every time you make the choice to bend the rules to make them work for you, you put yourself and your loved ones at risk.

"Staying local, staying small and staying apart protects the people we care about most and ensures the coming year will be better, brighter and safer for everyone."