A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

834 new cases, 12 new COVID-19 deaths as B.C. works on immunization strategy

That brings the total death toll to 469

B.C. is reporting 834 new COVID-19 cases and 12 new deaths as of Wednesday (Dec. 2), according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

By region, that breaks down to 529 in Fraser Health, 174 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 66 in Interior Health, 20 in Island Health and 45 in Northern Health. Three of the new cases are epi-linked.

That brings the total death toll to 469. Total cases have reached 34,728, of which 8,941 are currently active. There are 337 people in hospital with the virus, of whom 79 are in ICU or critical care.

There are currently 54 active outbreaks in long-term care and seven in acute care, with a total of 1,472 people affected. Of those, residents make up just over one-third of cases.

“We are continuing to see unchecked transmission,” Henry said.

“The need to follow provincial health orders is so important.”

The province has hired 161 new contact tracers in the past week, with a total of 1,096 of the at-least 1,200 that Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province plans to hire.

Henry said that the news that the U.K. had become the first country to approve the Pfizer vaccine was a good sign. However, she noted that it would be “some time yet before we get there.” The province is working to finalize its immunization framework to be ready to roll out the vaccine, expected in the first weeks of 2021.

Dix said that B.C. is speaking with the Red Cross and speaking with the Department of National Defence on the logistics of rolling out the vaccine.

There are no mandatory immunizations in B.C., and Henry said that will continue with the COVID-19 vaccine. However, for people who work, or visit, in long-term care the province will be “strongly encouraging” vaccination against the novel coronavirus.

READ MORE: Indoor adult sports teams banned, deemed too risky as B.C. battles surge in COVID cases

The provincial officer urged everyone to continue to “stay local, stay small” and to avoid crowded spaces.

Gatherings and events of any sort are banned in B.C. until Dec. 7 but Henry acknowledged that extending that order “is something that we’re looking at.”

Everyone in B.C. is being asked not to travel unless it is for medical or essential reasons, whether within B.C. or outside of the province.

“We need to stop right now,” Henry said, noting an example of a sports team that travelled outside of B.C. and led to dozens of COVID exposures.

READ MORE: Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Henry said that it was okay if a loved one returned home for the holidays, but that this person needed to stay within the household and follow all public health orders.

“I cannot stop you by an order from getting into your car or on a plane but I am asking you in the strongest terms,” she said.

Henry acknowledged the difficulties of not travelling and a lack of holiday events as the season nears.

“All of these things we love to do are on pause,” she said. She urged people to get outside, safely, and get fresh air and exercise as the winter months descend on B.C.

Some activities, like hot yoga, spin classes and high intensity interval training are on pause indefinitely, while guidelines are expected for other indoor group fitness activities next week.

Henry acknowledged that there are people who have flouted the rules and that establishments have been shut down and those responsible fined.

But she said that it was a “very small, if visible and vocal” minority of British Columbians who are breaking the rules.

“I know these restrictions put an added burden on what is already a difficult time for us, and they seem never ending,” Henry said.

“We’ve done a lot… and I’m asking everybody to do a little bit more to protect those we are closest to.”

READ MORE: B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusvideo

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VICTORIA, CANADA - MARCH 25: BC Ambulance Services stock photography session March 25, 2013 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick Images)
Paramedics responding to increased volume of overdose calls

Data released by BC Emergency Health Services shows a rising provincial trend of overdose responses

Recipients of last year’s Winter Games Legacy Grant funds. Bulletin file.
City of Kimberley accepting applications for Winter Games Legacy grants

Grants are available for amateur sports organizations

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick. Bulletin file
No need for travel bans: Kimberley Mayor

While there has been plenty of chatter lately about the possibility of… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Vernon's Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with an influenza outbreak amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Two more deaths at Vernon care home

Noric House case numbers remain steady, but death toll rises

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Most Read