536 new cases of COVID-19, 45 in Northern Health

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Across BC, there were 536 new infections found; 59,608 people have tested positive since the onset of the pandemic.

Early evidence suggests both variants are more transmissible versions of the COVID-19 virus, and may increase the number of new cases that arise from one case of COVID-19 by 50 per cent.

There are 4,624 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday, down almost 200 from Wednesday, with 362 people in hospital including 74 in critical and intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says while the COVID-19 vaccines are effective against symptoms and preventing death, it's not yet clear if the vaccine prevents a person from being infected.

Sadly, seven more deaths bringing the provincial death toll to 1,038. Worldwide, airlines are experiencing unprecedented financial stress due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

At the same time, two health-care outbreaks were declared over, including one at an assisted living facility in Duncan. The outbreaks at Langley Memorial Hospital long term care - Cedar Hill, Ts'i'ts'uwatul' Lelum and Veterans Memorial Lodge are over. Three are linked to the same household from Vancouver Island, having travelled recently to the United Kingdom, while one individual has no known travel history.

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The South African variant has been found to be much more contagious although not necessarily more lethal, similar to the United Kingdom variant.

The province has also reported its first case of the South African variant of the virus, also located in Vancouver Coastal.

The U.K. strain also spreads more easily and has been blamed in that country for record-high cases and surging hospitalizations. This means that if left unchecked, they could quickly cause a surge in cases. "So now, in the Interior, we are seeing the implications of what could happen in this province". "We're still working on the issues of how much vaccine we expect to be getting when". We all have a choice about our daily activities and how we treat those around us.

"It's hard to see how that is feasible in British Columbia, for many reasons", she said.

"So it may be that we're in a very similar place that we were in February of previous year where we have importations, and if we can find them and catch them early we can prevent that variant from spreading". There is an end, and doing the right thing, every day, will ensure we get there sooner. That needs to start today.

Lead image: Safety at the water jug re-fill at Kootenay Winecrafters in Cranbrook.

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