B.C. tops 70,000 cases of COVID-19 after identifying 1,236 infections over the weekend


British Columbia recorded another 1,236 cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, pushing the provincial total past 70,000.

Of the new cases, 152 people live in the Interior Health region.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced 13 more deaths related to the disease at her coronavirus briefing on Monday.

"Our condolences go out to those families and caregivers and communities that have lost loved ones again this weekend," Henry said.

The province has now recorded a total of 70,952 infections and 1,259 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The latest count includes 40 confirmed cases of the U.K. and South African COVID-19 variants, five of which are not connected to international travel.

Only three of the 40 identified variant cases are currently active, and health officials said they're confident the majority of cases did not lead to any further transmission.

"We're watching very closely for the further spread of what we call variants of concern here in British Columbia," Henry said. "Public health has done extensive follow-up and tracing back of all of our cases."

Hospitalizations have dropped to 234 – the lowest number of COVID-19 patients in hospital since Nov. 22 – with 69 people in intensive care.

B.C.'s active caseload also fell to 3,976, marking the first time that number has dipped below 4,000 in three months.

The province has immunized 154,496 people using the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines so far, and 12,111 of those have also received their second dose.

After unexpected delays from both manufacturers stretched B.C.'s vaccine supply thin in recent weeks, Henry said the province is preparing to get its immunization program back on track.

"Each week this month our available supply will increase, and we are looking forward to early in March when we anticipate being able to fully start our mass vaccination clinics across the province," she said.

The groups who will be eligible for the vaccine at that time – including seniors who are at least 80 years old and living in the community – will be contacted "in the coming days and weeks" with all the necessary information, Henry added.

Health officials announced new COVID-19 outbreaks at Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Dawson Creek District Hospital, while four others were declared over at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, Mount Saint Joseph Hospital, Evergreen Baptist Care Centre and Hilltop House.

There are now 22 active outbreaks in long-term care homes and assisted living facilities involving 786 residents and 441 staff.

Update on IH numbers:

  • Three new deaths to report for a total of 81.*
    • One additional death at Sunnybank in Oliver.
    • Two deaths in the community/hospital.

“Our condolences and thoughts go out to the families and friends of the three people who passed away this past weekend. Their deaths are a tragic loss for our communities which serve as a clear reminder to all of us the importance of following public health orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and to protect ourselves and loved ones during this challenging time," said Susan Brown, president and CEO of Interior Health.

Update on outbreaks:

  • Westsyde Care Residence group home in Kamloops has 26 cases: 14 residents and 12 staff. There are 24 active cases.
  • Royal Inland Hospital has 102 cases: 36 patients and 66 staff, with one death connected to this outbreak. There are 46 active cases.
  • Cariboo Memorial Hospital has 14 cases: 12 staff and two patients. There are no active cases.
  • Brocklehurst Gemstone long-term care in Kamloops has 25 cases: 17 residents and eight staff, with two deaths connected to this outbreak. There are two active cases.
  • Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver has 38 cases: 27 residents, 11 staff/other, with six deaths connected to this outbreak. There are eight active cases.
  • Creekside Landing long-term care in Vernon has 40 cases: 25 residents and 15 staff, with one death connected to this outbreak. There are four active cases.
  • Noric House long-term care in Vernon has 68 cases: 39 residents and 29 staff, with nine deaths connected to this outbreak. There are 12 active cases.
  • Heritage Square long-term care in Vernon has 68 cases: 47 residents and 21 staff, with nine deaths connected to this outbreak. There are six active cases.