Over 24 thousand vaccinated across BC

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Another 2,211 people tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C. over the past four days, health officials revealed in their first briefing of the year.

Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the latest cases in a live briefing Monday. The province's top doctor also revealed another 45 people died from the disease over the past four days.

"Once again, the majority of them are our seniors and elders in long-term care," Henry said, speaking of the latest deaths. "I know of at least two First Nations elders who passed away over the last few days and that, of course, affects us all."

To date, 946 people have died in B.C. from COVID-19.

Of the new cases, 565 tested positive between Thursday and Friday, 607 between Friday and Saturday, 500 between Saturday and Sunday and 539 over the past 24 hours.

Twenty-two of the cases added to B.C.'s total over the weekend were epidemiologically linked, Henry said. 

Since the start of the pandemic, B.C. has recorded 54,201 positive tests. 

A significant majority of the latest cases, 1,301 of them, were recorded in the Fraser Health region. In Vancouver Coastal Health, 389 people tested positive. Meanwhile, 64 people tested positive in Vancouver Island Health, 288 people in Interior Health and 169 in Northern Health. 

There are 6,823 active cases in B.C. currently. Of those, 351 people are in hospital with 76 in critical care. 

At least 8,785 people are under active health monitoring, but that doesn't include people in the Northern Health region, where electronic tracking systems have been down for several days. 

"Many people are getting back to school and back to work after our winter break, which means reminding ourselves about how important it is that we continue to use our layers of protection wherever we may be," Henry said. 

Henry also reminded British Columbians that public health orders are still in place. 

"I want to thank and commend many, many people, the most of us in British Columbia, who put the usual holiday traditions aside and followed public health orders to help protect our families, our communities and each other from COVID-19," she said. 

Henry warned, however, that increased cases are still likely as testing numbers were lower over the holidays and as some people still chose to gather. 

"Right now I'm asking everybody to be extra vigilant," she said. "Let's make this year our year of success overcoming COVID-19."

Six new health-care outbreaks

Henry also confirmed several health-care outbreaks in the province, many of which were already announced by their health authorities over the weekend. 

The latest outbreaks include: Braddan Private Hospital in Vancouver, Creekside Landing in Vernon, KinVillage in Delta, Madison Care Centre in Coquitlam, Royal City Manor in New Westminster and Williams Lake Seniors' Village in Williams Lake. 

Eight outbreaks were declared over in the past four days, Henry said, but there are still 52 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities and eight in acute care.

During her briefing, Henry also outlined the updated vaccine distribution plan for the province, which she described as a "monumental task."

"But we are optimistic and we are focused intensely on making sure we protect people in long-term care and assisted living as quickly as we possibly can and of course protect those most at risk in our communities," she said.