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Nak'azdli elder latest COVID-19 death, Henry confirms

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed Thursday that the second person to have died from the virus in Northern Health was an elder from the Nak'azdli First Nation.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed Thursday that the second person to have died from the virus in Northern Health was an elder from the Nak'azdli First Nation.

The death occurred over the weekend and was first reported on Monday but no further details had been provided at that time.

Since then, Henry said she had the opportunity to contact the woman's family indirectly.

"I just wanted to express our deep, deep condolences, understanding how important our elders are in our communities," Henry said during a briefing.

Active COVID-19 cases in Northern Health stood at 38 as of Thursday, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, up by five from the day before.

The number of new cases for the region also grew by five and have reached 278 since the pandemic began.

Hospitalizations remained steady at six while two of them were in intensive care, up by one from Wednesday.

Also on Thursday, Nak'albun Elementary School on the Nak'azdli reserve south of Fort St. James was added to Northern Health's webpage for potential exposures and outbreaks.

Someone who tested positive for the virus attended the school during Sept. 16-18, the posting indicates.

Northern Health says a notification doesn't necessarily mean a student has been exposed to Covid-19.

"If you do not receive a phone call or letter from Public Health, your child should continue to attend school," Northern Health says on the page.

"If your child's school has been notified of an exposure, no action is required unless you are contacted by public health or are otherwise directed by school officials."

Henry also announced 148 new cases of COVID-19 in BC, including 12 that are epidemiologically linked. The new cases bring the province's total to 8,543 since the pandemic began.

The number of active cases remains relatively stable, with 1,371 reported. However, the number of people under active public health monitoring continues to rise, with 3,417 people identified as being exposed to a confirmed case.

There are 61 people currently hospitalized, 20 of whom are in critical care. Unfortunately, there were two new COVID-19 related deaths in the Fraser health region, bringing BC's total to 229.

There was a new healthcare outbreak in the Vancouver Coastal region at the Banfield Pavilion nursing home. The outbreak at the OPAL by Element assisted living facility, also in Vancouver Coastal Health, was declared over. There are 14 active outbreaks remaining in the healthcare system, nine in longterm care or assisted living and five in acute care.

There were no new community outbreaks, but exposure events continue across the province. Henry also provided some more details on social interactions as fall begins.

"A starting point for all of us is to remember that the more people we see, the higher our risk will be," she said. "When deciding where to go and who to see, we all need to take a moment to think about two things. We need to consider the risks we're going into--how many people will be there, what is the environment, is it indoors, is it outdoors--and we also need to consider the risks that we will be bringing with us when we leave. This will help us determine what is safe for us to do right now, and it may be very dependent on the things that we have done in the recent past."

If you live with immunocompromised people or others at a higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19, Henry said it's even more important to take a step back form social interactions now.

- with files from The Canadian Press