Over 100 active cases of COVID-19 in central Island — 13 deaths reported across province

Photo courtesy of B.C. government Flickr.
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Central Vancouver Island has 109 active cases of COVID-19. Island Health reported 21 new cases in the past 24 hours —  there are 49 active cases in the south and 15 in the north.

Across the province there are 7,616 active cases, with 738 new positive tests reported today, according to Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. Of these cases, 294 are hospitalized, 61 of whom are in critical care. There were 13 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

Henry said the province has been working on plans to roll out a vaccine when it becomes available in the new year.

“What we are planning for is first week of January — week one of 2021, to be ready to deliver the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and we will have phases after that,” she said.

There are now 10,270 people under public health monitoring due to exposure to the virus and 19,814 people who have recovered, according to Henry.

B.C. has hired 222 new contact tracers, according to Health Minister Adrian Dix. With new resources from the federal government and First Nation health authorities, Dix said there will be over 1,000 contact tracers in the province.

“Our plan, which was originally to hire 500 contact tracers has now been dramatically expanded. We have hired 935, plus these other positions and it’s our intention to hire over 1,200,” Dix said. He said there are 399 potential hires in the interview stage.

The province announced new fines for people who refuse to wear masks in public this week. Henry said it is important to have compassion for people who cannot wear a mask because of disabilities and not assume they are being defiant.

“Understand that while we are all in the same storm, we don’t always know each other’s story. People who are unable to wear a mask must be accommodated,” she said.

“I have no time for people who believe wearing a mask somehow makes them ill or is a sign of lack of freedom. To me it is about respect for our fellow people who are suffering through this with us,” Henry said. 

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