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

Ottawa serial killer Camille Joseph Cleroux died of natural causes at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution on Sunday.
Serial killer housed at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution dies of natural causes

Camille Joseph Cleroux announced dead on Sunday, known as notorious Ottawa serial killer

A peregrine falcon nest sits atop the walls of a quarry where the owner wants to restart operations. The province has now given permission for the nest to be removed. (Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News)
Company gets OK to remove rare peregrine falcon nest from Abbotsford quarry

Province says it is satisfied with falcon population estimates and mitigation plans

Garry Blanchard of Hope won $77,000 correctly guessing the outcomes of all 13 games of NFL week 17. (Photo/BCLC)
Hope resident rakes in $77,000 in NFL Week 17 bet

Garry Blanchard won the record-breaking prize correctly guessing every outcome that week

This urn was found Jan. 4 at a Yale Road bus stop and has now been returned to its owner. (RCMP photo)
RCMP find custodian of urn that was left at Chilliwack bus stop

Police say the urn contained the remains of a family’s cat

Sexual offender Taylor Dueck has pleaded guilty to another charge after previously serving a three years and seven months in prison.
Sex offender with violent history pleads guilty to another charge

Taylor Dueck of Abbotsford/Mission was the subject of prior police warnings

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A child joins the Uke ‘n Play kickoff event at the Chilliwack Library on Oct. 1, 2016. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Events return, in virtual form, at Fraser Valley Regional Library

People can take part in ukulele jam, bullet journaling, reading groups and more

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

People wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 walk past a window display at a store in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, December 13, 2020. The association representing businesses across Metro Vancouver says the costs of COVID-19 continue to mount for its members.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Greater Vancouver business organization says members face uncertain outlook in 2021

Many Greater Vancouver businesses are barely treading water as they enter 2021

A handgun seized by Surrey RCMP. (Photo: Police handout)
Crime Stoppers received 500+ tips about Metro Vancouver guns, gang activity in 2020: report

Metro Vancouver organization ‘urging local residents to keep providing anonymous tips’

Most Read