B.C. reports three new COVID-19 deaths – lowest daily total in 13 weeks

The number of outbreaks at seniors' homes has declined significantly since vaccines started to be administered in December

B.C. provincial health officer Bonnie Henry regularly provides updates on the spread of COVID-19 | B.C. government

Three British Columbians lost their lives to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, and as tragic as that is, it is the lowest number of new deaths reported for a one-day period since November 19. Since the province's first reported COVID-19 death last March, health officials have attributed 1,317 deaths to the virus.

The province does not always break out the number of deaths on weekend days, so it is possible that there were fewer deaths on a recent weekend. Regardless, the low total of new deaths is a positive sign that the province is turning a corner on the most serious metric to watch during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Mass vaccinations at seniors' homes appear to have been successful at dampening the death toll in those facilities, as well as helping extinguish new outbreaks. 

"There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks," provincial health officer Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement.

They added that outbreaks at Sunnybank Retirement Home in Oliver, and Mountain View Manor in Ladner are now over. This pushes down the number of outbreaks at seniors' homes to 12, from more than 50 for much of January.

New infections continue, however, at a rate much higher than Henry said that she would like. 

Health officials detected 427 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours. That's a significantly higher total than in the past couple of days, but well in the range seen so far this month. 

Of the 74,710 infections detected so far during the pandemic, 69,167 people, or more than 92.5%, are considered to have recovered, meaning that they have tested negative twice for the virus. 

The number of active infections has been hovering above 4,000 for the past week, and is now 4,150. The vast majority of those people have been told to self-isolate, although 232 are sick enough to be in hospitals, and 63 of those are in intensive care units. 

Health officials are monitoring another 7,238 people for symptoms because they have had known exposure to identified cases. 

Here is the breakdown of where the 427 new cases are located:
• 90 people in Vancouver Coastal Health (21.1%);
• 236 people in Fraser Health (55.3%);
• 18 in Island Health (4.2%);
• 47 in Interior Health (11%);
• 31 in Northern Health (7.3%); and
• five people who reside outside Canada (1.2%).

Immunizations continue to be scarce, with 4,260 arms being jabbed in the past 24 hours. Of those, 3,116 people were receiving their required second dose. In total, 176,015 doses have been administered to 149,985 people since the first shot was dispensed on December 16. Of those, 26,030 individuals have had two doses. 

None of the 12 active outbreaks at B.C. seniors' care homes, assisted-living facilities and retirement residences are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. 

The five active outbreaks at seniors' living facilities in Fraser Health are:
• CareLife Fleetwood in Surrey;
• Eagle Ridge Manor in Port Moody;
• George Derby Centre in Burnaby;
• Royal City Manor in New Westminster; and
• Shaughnessy Care Centre in Port Coquitlam.

Two outbreaks at seniors' homes in Nanaimo – Eden Gardens and Wexford Creek – are the only ones in the Island Health region.

The outbreak at the Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert is the only active outbreak in Northern Health. 

The four active outbreaks at seniors' living facilities in Interior Health are at:
• Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre in Kamloops;
• Carrington Place Retirement Residence in Vernon;
• Creekside Landing in Vernon;
• Noric House in Vernon.

In addition to those outbreaks, there remain six outbreaks at B.C. hospitals. They include:
• Abbotsford Regional Hospital in Abbotsford;
• Burnaby General Hospital in Burnaby;
• Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake;
• Dawson Creek and District Hospital in Dawson Creek;
• Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops; and
• St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom