Monday December 7, 2020 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., editor | Island Social Trends
“The most precious gift we can give each other this holiday season is safety and good health,” said BC Health Minister Adrian Dix today during his joint COVID-19 briefing with Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry.
PHO orders restricting to household-only for this holiday season — as well as the restrictions to non-essential travel only, and holding no adult team sports — have now been extended by Dr Henry right through to midnight on January 8, 2021.
That’s to keep everyone safe while still most of the population does not yet have any COVID-19 vaccination available to them.
This extension does not come as much of a surprise, given how we’re deep into the second wave (as Dr Henry has noted many times in recent weeks) and until a brief dip in stats in recent days, the COVID curve has been ‘going in the wrong direction’.
Today Dr Henry and the BC Centre for Disease Control statistics (of the past three days to a week) showed that restrictions of the past two weeks are making a difference — a dent in the numbers.
But this is not the time to ease up on restrictions, she said. People are expected to adhere to all COVID public health protocols (physical distancing, washing hands, wearing a mask when in indoor public spaces) and follow all current orders (including the new ones today).
The strategy outlined today is to keep people safe and help contain the load on front-line health-care workers as COVID-19 continues.
Vaccines beginning to arrive:
It’s some light at the end of the long COVID pandemic tunnel. The first vaccine doses (the mRNA type by Pfizer), coming this month to 16 cities across Canada, will (in BC) be administered to long-term care workers and patients, and other frontline health care workers, said Dr Henry today.
The vaccine requires ultra-low temperatures (as low as -80°C) during shipping and storage, which results in a need for specialized and careful handling. Dr Henry outlined how a test-run for handling the dry ice and shipping of the virus (with no virus during the test) was underway today in BC and continues tomorrow.
In a few days, Dr Henry along with Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Dr Ross Brown will hold a media session to outline how vaccines will be rolled out in BC. It’s a “very complex and challenging initiative”, said Dr Henry today.
Still more deaths-by-COVID this past weekend:
There were 35 more deaths due to COVID-19 over this past week (Friday December 4 to Monday December 7). In those three days, 23 of the deaths were in Fraser Health, nine in Vancouver Coastal, two in the Interior, and one on Vancouver Island. This brings the BC total to 527 for the year to date.
That’s the first death on Vancouver Island since September 2, bringing the island total to seven.
In total there are now 38,152 cases in BC to date — of those, 9,380 are active. There are 349 people in hospital with 77 of those in intensive care (total hospitalizations this year is 2,074).
Long-term care outbreaks:
There are 57 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living in BC, with eight outbreaks in acute care.
Within long-term care facilities there are 1,697 active cases (1,073 residents and 605 staff).
Vancouver Island COVID profile:
There were 45 more test-positive cases in Island Health over the last three days (Friday to Monday, December 4 to 7), bringing active cases to 200 and total cases to 724 (which is 1.89% of the provincial total).
Of the active cases currently on Vancouver Island, 67 are the south island area, 101 in central, and 31 in the north (total to 199, with one being epi-linked).
Now 10 people are in hospital with COVID-19 in Island Health, with four in ICU.
There are now 11 school exposures on Vancouver Island: five in Port Alberni, three in Nanaimo, one in Campbell River, one on Salt Spring Island, and one in Victoria (SD61).