Jubilee Lodge COVID outbreak nearing end

There are only two remaining active cases of COVID-19 in the deadly Jubilee Lodge outbreak that claimed the lives of 14 residents.

A total of 48 residents and 14 staff contracted the disease over the course of the outbreak, which was first declared by Northern Health on Dec. 12. Thirty-two residents at the long-term care facility attached to the University Hospital of Northern B.C. have now recovered, a statement released by Northern Health said.

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On Friday morning, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the majority of long-term care residents in the province have now had their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The province's long-term care residents were expected to start receiving their second doses of the vaccine in February.

Once the majority of long-term residents have been fully vaccinated, the province will consider easing some of the public health restrictions on long-term care facilities, he said. On Friday, Northern Health held its first vaccination clinics in Fort St. James and Vanderhoof for long-term care residents.

"The idea is to keep people safe, and return to more normal (activity), which is so important for people's overall health," Dix said.

The outbreak at the UHNBC's internal medicine unit has claimed the lives of five patients, as of Friday. A total of 20 patients and 12 staff linked to the outbreak have tested positive for COVID-19.

That outbreak was first declared on Dec. 29.

A smaller outbreak at the hospital's rehab unit, first declared on Jan. 4, has resulted in three cases among patients, a statement released by Northern Health said.

A joint statement issued by Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Friday afternoon said there were 55 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the Northern Health region on Friday.

"Today, we are reporting 508 new cases, including six epi-linked cases, for a total of 63,484 cases in British Columbia," Henry and Dix said. "There are 4,479 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 315 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 74 of whom are in intensive care. There have been nine new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,128 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic."

One of those deaths was in the Northern Health region, bringing the region's death toll from the pandemic to 55.

The number of active cases in the Northern Health region wasn't reported, but on Friday afternoon the B.C. Centre for Disease Control reported 534 active cases in the region.

There were 46 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the north, including 18 in critical care, according to the B.C. CDC.

"To date, 110,566 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 2,202 of which are second doses," Henry and Dix said.

A total of 5,636 first doses and 46 second doses were administered in the Northern Health region, according to the B.C. CDC.

"We need to remember our risk remains high right now, even as we protect more and more people with vaccine. We are not at the point where we can lift restrictions in our community or long-term care," Henry and Dix said. "We must continue to use our COVID-19 layers of protection and do all we can to stop transmission in our communities right now."

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a total of 63,484 cases of COVID-19 in B.C., including 3,109 in the north.

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