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Northern Health nears 6K COVID-19 cases as B.C. closes indoor dining for three weeks

Six more people died of the virus, 329 new variant-of-concern infections
covid19
COVID-19 update. | Glacier Media

B.C. is tightening its COVID-19 public health orders as hundreds of newly-identified infections have surfaced since Friday (March 26).

According to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, there were 2,518 new lab-confirmed infections in the last 72 hours, bringing the grand total to 98,165 since January 2020.

In Northern Health, 121 new cases were found, nearing the region's total towards 6,000 since March 14, 2020, currently sitting at 5,898.

Sadly, six more people succumbed to the virus over the weekend, raising the province's death toll to 1,455 since the start of the pandemic.

Today (March 29), Dr. Henry also announced 329 new variant-of-concern cases detected since Friday for a total of 2,233 with 413 currently active.

There are 1,915 linked to the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), 48 linked to the South African variant (B.1.351) and 270 of the Brazil variant (P.1). 

The latest three-day case counts are as follows:

  • 936 = Friday to Saturday
  • 805 = Saturday to Sunday
  • 774 = Sunday to Monday

As a result of the rise in cases and variants, B.C. is implementing a 'circuit breaker' on several forms of indoor gatherings as part of efforts to try and lower COVID-19 transmission for the next three weeks.

From midnight tonight until April 19, indoor dining at all food and liquor-serving restaurants has been put on pause. However, outdoor patio dining, take-out and delivery services are still allowed.

Included in the amendment, Dr. Henry announced a halt on indoor adult group fitness activities, but individual or one-on-one activities may still take place, also noting that these kinds of settings 'amplify' the spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, indoor worship services have also been suspended days after class variance was given to allow up to 50 people at a time.

"It's with a heavy heart that I say this, but I can not in all conscious, with the increase number of cases we're having, [...] allow these types of activities to happen right now," she said.

"Outdoor worship services may continue as we know it's much safer to have these kinds of activities outdoors."

Dr. Henry adds travel throughout B.C. must now be essential for medical or work-related reasons only.

"Social connection is important, and so is keeping our loved ones and ourselves safe," she said. 

"We all have a choice – to stay safe or put our loved ones, our friends and ourselves at risk, which is why non-essential activities need to be limited and need to be outside with the same small number of people. The sacrifices we make today will help all of us to get through this storm."

Distribution of the Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine in B.C., by the advice of the Public Health Canada, has also stopped for those under the age of 55, Dr. Henry added.

This is due to reports out of Europe as patients who received the vaccine developed blood clots after receiving their dose.

More information on this decision is expected to be released 'in the next few days.'

There are currently 299 people in hospitals across B.C. diagnosed with COVID-19, 79 of whom are in critical care or ICU.

In education, an up-to-date list of northern B.C. schools marked for a COVID-19 exposure event in the month of March, and listed with a self-monitoring period, is as follows:

  • Duchess Park Secondary (SD57) - March 16-17, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 31, 2021
  • Heather Park Elementary - March 17-19, 2021
    • Self-monitoring periods ends April 2, 2021
  • D.P. Todd Secondary (SD57) - March 18-19, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends April 2, 2021
  • Telkwa Elementary (SD54) - March 1-5, 8-11, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 25, 2021
  • Muheim Memorial Elementary (SD54) - March 1-5, 8-1, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 25, 2021
  • Walnut Park Elementary (SD54) - March 1-5, 8-11, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 25, 2021
  • Smithers Secondary (SD54) - March 1-5, 8-11, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 25, 2021
  • Moberly Lake Elementary (SD59) - March 8-12, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 26, 2021
  • Conrad Elementary School (SD52) - March 11-12, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 26, 2021
  • St. Joseph's School (Independent) - March 1-5, 8, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 25, 2021
  • Spruceland Traditional Elementary (SD57) - March 12, 15-19, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends April 2, 2021
  • St. Joseph's School - Smithers (Independent) - March 1-5, 8-11, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 25, 2021
  • Valemount Secondary (SD57) - March 12, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 26, 2021
  • Conrad Elementary School (SD82) - March 8-9, 11, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 25, 2021
  • DP Todd Secondary (SD57) - March 12, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 26, 2021
  • Chief Matthews School (Independent) - March 11-12, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 26, 2021
  • Notre Dame School (SD59) - March 8-9, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 24, 2021
  • College Heights Secondary (SD57) - March 15-17, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 31, 2021
  • Heather Park Elementary (SD57) - March 10, 11-12, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 26, 2021
  • Notre Dame School (SD59) - March 8-9, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 23, 2021
  • Ecole Roosevelt Park Community School (SD52) - March 10-12, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 26, 2021
  • Lax Kxeen Elementary (SD52) - March 10-12, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 26, 2021 
  • Pacific Coast School (SD52) - March 10-12, 2021
    • Self-monitoring ends March 26, 2021
  • Caledonia Secondary (SD82) - March 5, 8-12, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 26, 2021
  • Kildala Elementary (SD82) - March 12, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 26, 2021
  • Cassie Hall Elementary (SD82) - March 10-12, 2021
    • Self-monitoring periods ends March 26, 2021
  • William Konkin Elementary (SD91) - March 10-12, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 26, 2021
  • Mount Elizabeth Secondary (SD82) - March 10-12, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 26, 2021
  • Hazelton Secondary (SD82) - March 11, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 25, 2021
  • Ecole Roosevelt Park Community School (SD52) - March 9-11, 2021
    • Sel-monitoring period ends March 25, 2021
  • Charles Hays Secondary - March 8, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 22, 2021
  • Charles Hays Secondary (SD52) - March 10-12, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 26, 2021
  • Kildala Elementary (SD82) - March 11, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 25, 2021
  • Chief Matthews School (Independent) - March 8, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 22, 2021
  • Valemount Elementary (SD57) - March 8-9, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 23, 2021
  • College Heights Secondary (SD57) - March 8-9, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 22, 2021
  • Caledonia Secondary (SD82) - March 8-9, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 23, 2021
  • Lax Kxeen Elementary (SD52) - March 8, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 22, 2021
  • Prince Rupert Middle (SD52) - March 8-10, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 24, 2021
  • Conrad Elementary (SD52) - March 8-9, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 22, 2021
  • Skeena Middle (SD82) - March 1-5, 8, 2021
    • Self-monitoring periods ends March 22, 2021
  • Dawson Creek Secondary - South Peace campus (SD59) - March 5, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 19, 2021
  • Kildala Elementary (SD82) - March 8, 2021
    • Self-monitoring period ends March 22, 2021

- with a file from The Canadian Press