Northern Health sees record new, active COVID-19 cases

Northern Health had 61 new cases of COVID-19 reported over the weekend, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said on Monday.

The number active cases in the Northern Health region wasn't provided, but on Monday the B.C. Centre for Disease Control reported 153 active cases in the north – a new record high. The previous record was 95 active cases, set on Friday. 

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The 34 cases reported on Sunday was a new single-day high for new cases. The previous single-day high was 24 cases, reported on Thursday.

"That really speaks to where we are in B.C. We are all feeling the strain," Henry said. "But this virus doesn't pause when we are tired. Over the next two weeks, we need to urgently reduce the number of cases..."

On Monday there were 18 Northern Health area residents hospitalized, including nine in intensive care, the B.C. CDC reported. There were eight more people hospitalized on Monday than on Friday, and one more person in intensive care.

The positivity rate for COVID-19 tests conducted in Northern Health last week was 7.1 per cent, the CDC reported.

Henry said the province had a total of 1,953 new cases since her last update on Friday. There were 7,360 active cases in B.C. on Monday, and 277 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized – including 59 in intensive care.

There were 17 COVID-19-related deaths in B.C. since Friday – 13 in the Fraser Health authority and four in Vancouver Coastal Health. 

"The majority of these people were seniors and elders in long-term care," Henry said.

The province's death toll from the pandemic hit 348 on Monday, including six people who lived in the Northern Health region.

The total number of cases in the Northern Health, since the start of the pandemic, hit 649. The provincial total hit 27,407.

Public health is monitoring more than 10,000 people who have been potentially exposed to COVID-19.

A total of 970 of the active COVID-19 cases in B.C, on Monday were residents of long-term care or assisted living facilities, Henry said – people who have the highest risk of serious illness or death.

On Sunday, Northern Health declared an COVID-19 outbreak at the North Peace Seniors Housing Society apartments in Fort St. John. As of Sunday, there were six confirmed cases among residents of the apartment complex.

Residents of the complex have been asked to take extra precautions, including reducing visitors, wearing masks in public areas and reducing social interactions, according to a statement released by Northern Health. People at higher risk have been asked to self-isolate in their apartments. Common rooms have been closed, and enhanced cleaning is being done throughout the building. 

Residents of the complex have been asked to take extra precautions, including reducing their number of visitors and social interactions. Those at higher risk have been asked to self-isolate in their apartments, and the complex's common rooms have been closed.

Northern Health is working with the society are working together to put additional enhanced control measures in place.

Henry said the intent of the additional health order she put in place last week is to reduce social interactions to give the virus less opportunities to spread, protecting the most vulnerable and allowing schools and businesses to stay open.

Instead of trying to find loopholes or ways around the orders, she said, focus on how you can do your part to keep yourself and others safe.

"I'm asking people to focus on the intent of the orders," she said. "I'm asking you to put the safety measures at the top of mind every day. These next few weeks are critical."

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