COVID-19: Eight more deaths in B.C. but the number of new cases declines

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      In the past 24 hours, there have been another 428 cases of COVID-19 in B.C. This brings the provincial total to 54,629, including 6,472 active cases.

      That's significantly lower than the 539 new cases recorded on the previous day and the four day average of 553 since New Year's Eve.

      The number of people in hospital has risen by 16 in the last day to reach 367. One more person is in intensive or critical care, bringing to the total to 77.

      “There have been eight new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 954 deaths in British Columbia," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement. "We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic."

      There are currently 8,596 people under public health monitoring because they've been exposed to known cases. Another 770 people who tested positive have recovered from the virus, lifting that total to 45,999.

      “Since we last reported, we have had 90 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 223 new cases in the Fraser Health region, nine in the Island Health region, 61 in the Interior Health region, 45 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada," Henry and Dix stated.

      So far, 28,209 people have received their first dose of the CIOVID-19 vaccine. The statement did not reveal if any have received a booster shot.

      On January 4, the province announced that these booster shots for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines would occur approximately 35 days after the first shot. 

      Pfizer-BioNTech's immunication received emergency authorization from Health Canada after clinical trials demonstrated a 94 percent efficacy rate for those who received booster shots after 21 days.

      The Moderna vaccine's emergency authorization came after clinical trials showed a 95 percent efficacy rate among those who received a booster shot after 28 days.

      Henry declared at the January 4 briefing that more people can be vaccinated, thereby preventing greater spread of COVID-19, by extending the time frame for the second shot.

      “While the focus is on first-priority populations in the next three months, as new vaccines are approved and additional supply becomes available, we will incorporate the additional doses into our distribution to enable as many people as possible to be immunized as soon as they can," Henry and Dix said today.

      There has been one new health-care facility outbreak of COVID-19 at St. Paul's Hospital.

      “A public alert has been issued for the Revelstoke region, where community transmission and new cases of COVID-19 have increased substantially in recent days," they noted. "The alert is a caution for all of us to continue to follow public health guidelines and restrictions."