COVID-19 in B.C.: 15 new deaths, new case count increases, Williams Lake cluster, and more

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      Although case numbers have remained stable or decreased over this past week, B.C. health officials remain concerned about case levels in the province.

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement that the “COVID-19 curve [is] trending in the right direction” but pointed out that "we continue to have new outbreaks, community clusters, and high numbers of new cases”.

      Although an in-person briefing was scheduled to be held today, it has been postponed until tomorrow morning (January 22) for an announcement about the province’s immunization program.

      Meanwhile, a community cluster in the B.C. Interior was announced just as a blackout in the area rendered a batch of vaccines unusable.

      B.C. update: January 21

      Henry and Dix announced today that B.C. has 564 new cases (including eight epi-linked cases).

      By region, that includes:

      • 234 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 111 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 95 in Interior Health;
      • 76 in Northern Health;
      • 47 in Island Health;
      • one person from outside of Canada.

      The number of active cases has increased. Currently, the province has 4,450 active cases, which is 105 more cases since yesterday.

      However, the number of hospitalized cases continues to lower. Today, there are 309 individuals in hospital (11 less people since yesterday), with 68 of those patients in intensive care units (two less people than yesterday).

      Public health is monitoring 6,816 individuals who have been exposed to confirmed cases.

      Unfortunately, the number of deaths remain high—there are 15 new deaths, which brings the cumulative total to 1,119 people who have died during the pandemic of COVID-19-related causes.

      A total of 56,010 people (89 percent) have recovered.

      B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 62,976 cases over the duration of the pandemic, which includes (by region):

      • 38,518 cases in Fraser Health;
      • 14,328 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 5,560 in Interior Health;
      • 3,054 in Northern Health;
      • 1,385 in Island Health;
      • 131 people from outside Canada.

      As of today, 104,901 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. since vaccinations began, and 1,680 of those are second doses.

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix
      Province of British Columbia

      Outbreaks and clusters

      There’s good news when it comes to healthcare facilities.

      There aren’t any new healthcare outbreaks and six healthcare outbreaks have been declared over:

      • Vancouver General Hospital, where Vancouver Coastal Health lifted restrictions on January 19;
      • Arbutus Care Centre in Vancouver, where Vancouver Coastal Health lifted restrictions on January 20;
      • Renfrew Care Centre in Vancouver, where Vancouver Coastal Health lifted restrictions on January 20;
      • Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge;
      • Fleetwood Villa in Surrey;
      • Hart House in Victoria.

      Meanwhile, a community cluster has been identified in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region, in and around Williams Lake. Global News reported that Interior Health said there were 215 cases as of January 20, with 158 cases active at the time.

      The cluster coincides with some unfortunate news in the area that is a set-back to the provincial immunization program.

      Global News reported that a power outage has resulted in a batch of Moderna vaccines becoming spoiled and unusable at the Anaham Sage Healh Clinic in Tl’etinqox, which is located west of Williams Lake. The number of affected doses wasn’t specified.

      The Tl’etinqox Nation went into lockdown on January 20 due to rising numbers of cases. As of January 20, 74 out of the 215 cases in the Williams Lake cluster were among First Nations community members.

      Stores and flights

      Loblaw reported two of its Real Canadian Superstore locations had staff members who tested positive:

      • one employee who last worked on January 13 at the 8195 120th Street store in Delta;
      • one employee who last worked on January 16 at the 301 Lougheed Highway store in Coquitlam.

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control added one flight confirmed with COVID-19 to its list of potential exposure: Air Canada 311, from Montreal to Vancouver on January 14 with affected rows 12 to 17.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.