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Prince George area has had more than 1,500 cases of COVID-19

From the beginning of the pandemic to the end of March, the Prince George local health area has had 1,540 cases of COVID-19, according to data released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

From the beginning of the pandemic to the end of March, the Prince George local health area has had 1,540 cases of COVID-19, according to data released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

The Prince George local health area – which includes Mackenzie and the Robson Valley – is the most populous of the 17 local health areas in the Northern Health region, and had the highest case count. Prince Rupert was second with 757 cases up to the end of March, followed with Peace River North with 746.

More current data released by the B.C. CDC showed that the Prince George area had 32 new cases during the week of March 28 to April 3. Prince Rupert (72 new cases), Peace River North (56 new cases) and Peace River South (115 new cases) all had higher numbers of new cases during the same week.

On Thursday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 1,293 new cases of COVID-19 across the province – including 51 in the Northern Health region.

"What we have seen over the past few weeks is increased transmission," Henry said. "It's driven by our social interactions and amplified by workplaces."

Active cases in the north increased by seven, to 307, while the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 remained steady at 33, with 11 in intensive care, according to the B.C. CDC. No new COVID-related deaths were reported in the region, leaving the death toll from the pandemic at 129.

Henry urged British Columbians to avoid indoor social gatherings, not travel unnecessarily and comply with all public health orders. She said she understands that people are tired of the pandemic and following the orders, but healthcare workers who see people sick and dying of COVID-19 are tired too.

"All of the people who are keeping people alive and saving lives every day are tired of this pandemic," Henry said. "We need to show them our support, too."

She also issued a new order, giving public health officials and WorkSafeBC inspectors the increased powers to shut down workplaces where transmission is occurring. The order is intended to break the transmission chain in places were the disease is spreading, and avoid shutting down whole sectors of the economy, which she called "a blunt tool."

As of Thursday, 49,773 doses of COVID-19 had been administered in the Northern Health region, including 46,966 first doses and 2,807 second doses.

Currently residents aged 65 and older (born in 1956 or earlier) can register for their COVID-19 vaccination. All Indigenous adults are also eligible.

To register for your appointment, go online to getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca or phone 1-844-255-7555.

Northern Health and the B.C. Pharmacy Association still had no information available about the pharmacy-based immunization campaign for people aged 55 to 65, which was announced by Health Minister Adrian Dix earlier this week. On Tuesday, Dix announced the AstraZeneca vaccine would be available through pharmacies throughout B.C., including at locations in Prince George, Terrace and Dawson Creek.