The Northern Health region saw 60 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bumping the number of active cases up to 294, according to data released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
Twenty-three people in the north were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 12 in critical care, the B.C. CDC reported. Across the province, there were four new COVID-related deaths, bringing B.C.'s death toll from the pandemic to 1,380. The death toll in the north remained at 109.
"Today, we are reporting 634 new cases, including three epi-linked cases, for a total of 83,107 cases in British Columbia," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement. "There are 4,901 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 8,861 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases. Of the active cases, 255 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 66 of whom are in intensive care."
Four new cases of COVID-19 "variants of concern" were detected in the province, they said. There have been a total of 250 cases of the dangerous variants – 222 of the British variant and 28 of the South African variant – of which 12 remain active, they said.
"To date, 311,208 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 86,865 of which are second doses," Henry and Dix said. "This has been a week of progress in our COVID-19 response, as we ready our province to begin our age-based immunizations and integrate the AstraZeneca-SII vaccine into our program. Building on this momentum, the federal government approved a fourth COVID-19 vaccine today. The newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine is another tool in our immunization program that will help accelerate protection of people throughout our province."
On Monday, people over the age of 90 and Indigenous people over 65 will be able to start booking their immunization appointments at clinics across the province.
"We ask that anyone outside of this age group waits to call until their registration window begins " Henry and Dix said. "Regular updates will be provided to ensure everyone has the latest registration information."
In the Northern Health region, a total of 9,780 doses of COVID-19 vaccine – 7,119 first doses and 2,661 second doses – have been administered, according to the B.C. CDC.
"In addition to our immunization program, we are regularly reviewing the public health restrictions to assess when we can safely ease them," Henry and Dix said. "We know many are keen to resume activities and we will open what we can when we have the confidence it is safe to do so. Our days are brighter, but the number of new cases remains higher than where we want it to be. So, as we get outside and enjoy the many activities we can do safely, let's ensure we are also staying the course with our safety measures."