A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

B.C. has recorded 536 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths over the past 24 hours, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday (Jan. 14).

By health authority, that breaks down to 102 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 253 in Fraser Health, 115 in Interior Health, 21 in Island Health, 45 in Northern Health. Six of the new cases are epi-linked. B.C.’s death toll from the virus is now at 1,038.

There have been a total of 59,608 cases of COVID-19 in B.C. since the pandemic began, of which 4,624 are currently active. There are 362 people in hospital with the virus, 74 of whom are in ICU. A total of 52,605 people have recovered while just over 7,300 are under public health monitoring.

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

She said that there have now been four confirmed cases of the U.K. variant, which has been considered more transmissible, in B.C. Three of those cases were linked to one specific traveller, while the last was linked to another traveller.

The province has also found one case of the South African variant of the virus. That case is not linked to any known travel, something that Henry said is concerning. The province is conducting whole genome sequencing, both randomly and with a targeted approach, to find and isolate people who have brought that variant into B.C. So far, all cases of both variants were found in Vancouver Coastal Health.

“We don’t know how that person got [the South African variant] yet, but I’m confident there’s not spread from that person to others,” Henry said.

“We don’t believe that either of those variants are causing a lot of spread of illness in our communities yet but we are not by any means out of the woods.”

Henry said she was “saddened and disturbed” after hearing reports of racism and discrimination against the Cowichan Tribes as the Indigenous community battles a COVID outbreak.

“This type of racism cannot be tolerated,” she said. “This must stop. Racism has no place in our society, in our communities here in British Columbia and we must all take the time to speak up and speak out.”

READ MORE: Racism towards Cowichan Tribes in COVID-19 fight denounced by federal minister

On the topic of interprovincial travel as brought in by B.C.’s premier on Thursday morning, Henry said she was not considering issuing an order banning interprovincial travel. She said that the Maritimes, which require a 14-day quarantine when people enter from other parts of Canada, have a different situation and that it’s not “feasible” in B.C.

She said cases now are being driven by people who chose to “stretch the rules” over the holidays and got together in small, local groups. Currently, British Columbians have been told to not socialize with anyone outside their household for non-essential reasons, unless they live alone and choose to bubble with others.

“Now in the interior we are seeing the implications of what could happen in this province if we all took those liberties,” Henry said.

READ MORE: COVID clarity: Feds say 42-day gap for 2-dose vaccines OK as provinces race to immunity

READ MORE: More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tree clearing and grubbing will take place March 8 for the French Creek Water Pollution Control Centre upgrade and expansion project. (PQB News file photo)
Work scheduled for March 8 as part of $48.5M French Creek Pollution Control Centre expansion project

Resident questions Regional District of Nanaimo regarding lack of activity to date

Construction of a roundabout in Qualicum Beach has started. (Town of Qualicum Beach photo)
Construction of new roundabout in Qualicum Beach has begun

Traffic detours in effect to keep workers safe

A man receives his COVID-19 vaccine. (CP file photo)
COVID-19: Vaccination site in Parksville Community Centre to start March 15

Approximately 60,000 Parksville Qualicum Beach residents to be vaccinated

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Mid day at the Vancouver Port Intersection blockade on March 3, organized by the Braided Warriors. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
Anti-pipeline blockade at Vancouver intersection broken up by police

Demonstraters were demanding the release of a fellow anti-TMX protester

One person is dead after a camper van caught fire Thursday morning in Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
One person dead after vehicle fire in Victoria park

Investigation into Beacon Hill Park death in early stages

(Government of B.C.)
Chelsea Harry was last seen Feb. 21. Photo via Comox Valley RCMP
Vancouver Island RCMP seeking help locating a missing woman

Missing person last seen in Courtenay on Feb. 21

(PQB News file photo)
Qualicum Beach offers grants to organizations impacted by COVID-19

$75,000 earmarked to assist registered societies, non-profit organization and charities

A recently finished $4.3-million taxiway extension at the Victoria International Airport (not pictured) is unusable because of a blind spot. (Black Press Media file photo)
Blind spot leaves Victoria airport’s new $4.3-million taxiway extension unusable

Solution has been put on hold by COVID-19 pandemic, says airport authority

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

Most Read