COVID-19 cases broken down by local health area for Dec. 13-19, 2020. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

COVID-19 cases broken down by local health area for Dec. 13-19, 2020. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

B.C.’s COVID-19 infection hotspots reach into remote Interior, North

Isolated areas offer greater difficulty for public health

By the time B.C. public health officials started releasing more localized information on COVID-19 infections, people were familiar with hotspots like Surrey and Abbotsford in the Fraser Health region.

Add to that list Smithers, Burns Lake, Nechako, Fort Nelson in the north and in southern B.C., Kettle Valley. Those are the local health areas where average daily coronavirus case numbers are small, but among the highest as a share of population. And rural and remote locations mean greater difficulty in infection containment and contact tracing.

Presenting the latest epidemic modelling, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry cautioned that the localized case information is reported by where infected people live, and does not show where people picked up the SARS-Cov-2 virus while travelling.

“As the number of cases of COVID-19 have increased over the past number of weeks and months, we are now able to present data by local health area, and that is a more granular understanding of where cases have been,” Henry said Dec. 23. “I will remind people that this is our average daily rate per 100,000 population, and local health area represents the communities where people live who have tested positive for COVID-19. That is our convention across the country that we report by where people live.”

Most identified cases are from clusters or exposures to a known infected person, and industrial work sites and meat processing plants have been a particular issue in the second surge of the virus.

RELATED: Rapid-response paramedics sent to Fort St. James

VIDEO: First Nations elders urge caution in traditional language

Henry said the arrival starting next week of the more portable Moderna vaccine allows for targeted immunization in remote communities, where contact tracing has been most difficult.

“It comes in boxes of 1,200 doses, but we can break it down into as small as 100 doses and take that out to different parts of communities around the province,” Henry said. “So that means we can start to address some of the urgent needs that we have to protect people in some of our remote and isolated, particularly First Nations communities, and also residents of long-term care homes, where we know the virus is causing the most damage.”

The target for December to February vaccinations includes 25,000 people in remote and isolated Indigenous communities. They are not identified, but one of the first outbreaks that scrambled the province’s mobile response team was at Fort St. James in the Nechako health area.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

Russell Jonathon George Gurney was last seen in Chilliwack in mid-December. (RCMP photo)
RCMP ask for help to find missing Abbotsford man last seen in Chilliwack

Police and family are concerned for the well-being of Russell Jonathon George Gurney

Grade 6 students at Eugene Reimer Middle School have been participating in the Equity Backpack Project. (Submitted photo)
Equity Backpack Project in Abbotsford addresses inclusion and anti-racism

Grade 6 teacher Nerlap Sidhu says she wants students to develop ‘strong sense of self’

Subm
Mission art gallery re-opens after 10 months

‘People are in need of some visual things just to take them away’

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 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

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
One in five tests in Fernie area coming back positive: doctor

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Snow is forecasted to appear in parts of Metro Vancouver this weekend. (Black Press Media files)
Snow forecasted for parts of Lower Mainland this weekend

Environment Canada is predicting flurries and snow from Saturday to Monday evening

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

A Langley woman said she was shaken by the angry encounter. (Google Maps)
Woman shaken after belligerent encounter with unmasked man in Langley store

A man angry about vaccines berated a fellow shopper, a witness said

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

(Black Press Media files)
Woman steals bottles of wine after brandishing stun baton in New Westminster

Police say the female suspect was wearing a beige trench coat with fur lining

Most Read