COVID-19 claims life of northern B.C. woman

COVID-19 claimed its first victim in the Northern Health region over the weekend, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

The woman's death was one of six linked to COVID-19 in B.C. since Friday's update by public health officials. The additional deaths mean the province's death toll from the pandemic now stands at 219.

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"We've had our first tragic death in the Northern Health area. Once again our thoughts and cares go to the families of the victims," Henry said. "This was a woman in her 70s who did, unfortunately, pass away in hospital. She was exposed in the community after attending an event."

Henry did not reveal the community the woman was from, or what event she was exposed at.

"These are very challenging times," B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said. "We want all of the family and all of the caregivers to know we grieve with them in their loss."

Twelve new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the Northern Health region on Monday – the update included new cases from the three days since the last public update on Friday.

The total number of cases in the north since the start of the outbreak increased to 216.

Data released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control on Monday showed 31 active cases in the Northern Health region. Seven people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the north, including three in intensive care.

Throughout the province there were 317 new cases, bringing the province's total number of cases up to 7,279. Public health officials were monitoring 1,594 active cases and 3,047 people who were potentially exposed to the disease.

Across the province, a total of 58 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 16 in intensive care.

"The number of new cases is placing a strain on our public health systems," Henry said. "As we are getting more cases, the danger of getting spillover into people who are more vulnerable is increasing. We're seeing that particularly in the north, where we've had our first death."

While B.C. has been seeing a rising number of new cases in younger adults, who may have mild or no symptoms, they can unknowingly spread it to more vulnerable people in their lives, Henry said. 

In B.C. the demographic with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases is people aged 20-29 (1,569 cases as of Friday), followed by people aged 30-39 (1,411 as of Friday), according to information released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. By comparison, there have only been 1,432 confirmed cases as of Friday in people aged 60-plus, but they make up 97 per cent of COVID patients who have died in B.C. and 65 per cent of people who have been hospitalized because of it.

"We need to take a step back an reset," Henry said. "COVID-19 has not left us. We need to do our part and be ready for challenges."

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