Heavy snow falls as a man wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks on the Simon Fraser University campus, in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday, December 21, 2020. Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning on the first day of winter with up to 5cm of snow expected for Metro Vancouver and up to 20cm for other areas of the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Heavy snow falls as a man wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks on the Simon Fraser University campus, in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday, December 21, 2020. Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning on the first day of winter with up to 5cm of snow expected for Metro Vancouver and up to 20cm for other areas of the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. records 41 COVID deaths and 1,667 new cases over the weekend

More than 3,600 people have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

There have been 1,667 new cases and 41 COVID-19 deaths over the weekend, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a briefing on Monday (Dec. 21).

By day, there were 652 cases reported Saturday, 486 cases Sunday and 529 cases Monday, with 14 epi-linked cases. The weekend’s deaths bring the total COVID-19 death toll in B.C. to 765.

By region, the weekend’s cases break down to 1,084 in Fraser Health, 283 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 189 in Interior Health, 21 in Island Health and 90 in Northern Health.

There are 9,718 active cases of COVID-19 following the weekend. Currently, there are 341 people in hospital, of whom 80 are in critical care or ICU. There have been a total of 47,057 confirmed cases in B.C. since the pandemic began. There are more than 9,600 people under active public health monitoring. There have been five new outbreaks in health-care facilities, while five others have ended, and two community outbreaks at Coastal GasLink sites. There are a total of 55 health care outbreaks in B.C.

Last week, at least 3,644 people – largely long-term care workers in the Lower Mainland – have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Henry said that vaccine doses have now arrived in all other health regions in B.C.

“Last week was a great kick off for immunizations programs across the province,” she said, noting that more details on who can get the vaccine will come over the next weeks and months.

“The target area is to protect those most at risk, at the start.”

There are currently nine sites across B.C. where the Pfizer vaccine has been delivered, mostly in the Lower Mainland but with several in Island Health, Northern Health and Interior Health. Pfizer has required the vaccine, which must be transported in ultra-cold freezers at negative 80 C, to be given at the same location it is delivered to, making vaccinating long-term care residents difficult.

Henry said she hopes to have all long-term care workers and residents in B.C. vaccinated “well before March.”

READ MORE: ‘Respond with empathy’: B.C. expert breaks down COVID vaccine myths, reasons for hesitancy

Henry said that the coronavirus variant that has been found in the U.K. has not been found in Canada, and noted that the travel ban put in place Sunday night will give health officials here a chance to get to grips with the mutation. She said that so far, it’s believed that the current vaccines will continue to work on the new mutation.

“We are starting to see a levelling of our COVID-19 curve in B.C…. but at a very high level,” she warned. “We continue to see hundreds of people each day with confirmed cases.”


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