COVID count holds steady at 60 in Northern Health

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Northern Health region stood at 60 on Thursday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during her daily briefing.

The figure remains unchanged from the day before while the number who have discontinued isolation increased by one to 57, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, leaving three active cases of which one was in critical care.

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Province-wide, the count grew by 12 and stood at 2,479 while the number of deaths grew by three, raising that total to 152. Two were in Fraser Health and one in Vancouver Health. No deaths from the virus have been recorded in Northern Health.

Recoveries stood at 2,020, up 19 from Wednesday, leaving 307 active cases, down seven from Wednesday.

During her briefing, Henry encouraged the use of non-medical masks in certain situations, saying they can help prevent spread of the virus while on public transit or in small retail stores "where you may not always be able to maintain that distance."

"It is an additional layer that is appropriate in some settings and it's really a way of protecting others from our own droplets and keeping our own droplets from going onto surfaces around us," Henry said.

Despite the low number of hospitalizations in the Northern, Vancouver Island and Interior health regions - there was just one in each of those regions as of Wednesday - Henry said phasing out restrictions on a regional basis remains out of the question.

"I don't believe we're at that point where that will make sense for us," Henry said. "We do know that people move and we do know as well that [with] this virus, we're not catching everybody that has it, we know that it is still in our communities."

Henry also said there remains a chance for a second wave of outbreaks and made note of sudden rises elsewhere where restrictions have been lifted.

"Right now, a case in point is in South Korea where there has been quite a lot of transmission from somebody who inadvertently went to a number of nightclubs and spread it to a variety of people, a couple hundred, maybe even thousands," she said. "Those are the types of situations we want to avoid right now."

Flu bugs tend to fade away in the summer but come back in the fall, Henry added.

"I would really like to think that's not going to happen but if we look at the pandemics we have historical data about, that is what has happened," she said. "And sometimes we've seen a bigger wave in the second wave, sometimes it's been smaller, so we don't know what that's going to look like but we need to watch very carefully."

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