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COVID-19 variant cases jump to 60 over long weekend

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 4:00 PST, Tue February 16, 2021

After reporting 47 cases of COVID-19 “variants of concern” in B.C. on Friday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that number is now up to 60. 

Forty of these cases are of the so-called United Kingdom variant, up from 29 on Friday. A further 19 are the so-called South African variant, a two-person increase from Friday’s number. And the last case is a new variant first identified in Nigeria, now confirmed to be a variant of concern.

There were 1,533 new cases in the province over the four-day weekend: 452 from Friday to Saturday, 431 from Saturday to Sunday, 348 from Sunday to Monday and a further 302 in the last 24 hours. Six of the weekend’s cases are epidemiologically linked.

Of the new cases, 392 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region (including Richmond), 856 in the Fraser Health region, 58 in the Island Health region, 92 in the Interior Health region and 135 in the Northern Health region.

There are 4,189 active cases and 231 people hospitalized due to the virus, 74 of whom are in critical care. A further 7,136 people are under active public health monitoring.

Sadly, 26 people died over the weekend as a result of COVID-19. There were also three new healthcare outbreaks announced, and three were declared over. There remain 15 active outbreaks in long-term care or assisted living facilities and six in acute care facilities, affecting 561 residents and 349 staff members.

Two new community outbreaks were declared: one at a school in Chilliwack and one at the Simon Fraser University child care society.

To date, 171,755 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, 22,914 of which are second doses. More vaccine deliveries are expected this week, and the province is focusing on providing second doses to people at highest risk.

Henry said although new case numbers have stabilized, they are still very high and “much higher than we want.” 

One of the statistics used by public health officials to track the transmission of COVID-19 is the reproductive number, which measures how many people—on average—each person with COVID-19 goes on to infect. Henry said ideally this number should be below one, but in the last week it has risen above one in some regions, particularly Fraser Health. When the number rises above one, she said there is potential for exponential growth. 

The rise in this statistic “means that we’re not having these safe interactions as much as we need to be,” said Henry.

For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and to find a testing centre near you: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.

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