Tuesday, the Province of British Columbia formally extended the provincial state of emergency, allowing health and emergency management officials to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) to support the Province's COVID-19 pandemic response.
The state of emergency is extended through the end of the day on March 2, 2021, to allow staff to take the necessary actions to keep British Columbians safe and manage immediate concerns and COVID-19 outbreaks.
“The fight against COVID-19 has been a long and difficult one, and I am proud of what British Columbians have accomplished to flatten the curve and protect our health-care system,” said Premier John Horgan in a media release.
“The beginning of our mass vaccination program is just weeks away, and health-care workers have already vaccinated virtually everyone in our long-term care system. We need to keep following public health orders, knowing they will keep us safe as we work to end the pandemic in B.C.”
The extension of the provincial state of emergency is based on recommendations from B.C.‘s health and emergency management officials.
The original declaration was made on March 18, 2020, the day after Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer (PHO), declared a public health emergency.
Tuesday, Dr. Henry reported another 1,533 cases of COVID-19 confirmed over the long weekend as well as 26 more people who have died of the disease.
There were 392 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 856 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 58 in the Island Health region, 92 in the Interior Health region, 135 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada
The Interior Health region reported four community or hospital deaths due to COVID-19.
“We are sad to report four more people have died of COVID-19 since our last report for Interior Health on Feb. 12,” said Susan Brown, president and CEO, Interior Health.
“Our condolences go to the loved ones and caregivers of these four valued members of our communities.”
"As we look ahead to a stronger supply of vaccines, I encourage you to make sure you are doing everything you can do to keep yourselves and the people around you safe from this virus,” Brown added.
This is the first update prior the BC Family Day weekend and brings B.C.'s death toll to 1,314.
During the long weekend, 452 cases were confirmed between Friday and Saturday with another 431 were reported in the next period, and 348 between Sunday and Monday.
There were 302 cases added to the total between Monday and Tuesday.
Dr. Henry also confirmed that the total infections of "variants of concern" has now reached 60.
Dr. Henry said two-thirds of the cases are of the B.1.1.7 variant, which originated in the U.K. Nineteen have been diagnosed with the B.1.351 variant, associated with South Africa, and one is believed to have the B.1.525 variant with ties to Nigeria.
Update on Interior Health outbreaks:
- Carrington Place in Vernon has two cases: one resident and one staff.
- Highridge/Singh House group home in Kamloops has 13 cases: five residents and eight staff.
- Westsyde Care Residence group home in Kamloops has 30 cases: 16 residents and 14 staff, with one death connected to this outbreak.
- Royal Inland Hospital has 105 cases: 36 patients and 69 staff, with one death connected to this outbreak.
- Cariboo Memorial Hospital has 14 cases: 12 staff and two patients.
- Brocklehurst Gemstone long-term care in Kamloops has 32 cases: 24 residents and eight staff, with two deaths connected to this outbreak.
- Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver has 38 cases: 27 residents, 11 staff/other, with six deaths connected to this outbreak.
- Creekside Landing long-term care in Vernon has 40 cases: 25 residents and 15 staff, with one death connected to this outbreak.
- Noric House long-term care in Vernon has 67 cases: 39 residents and 28 staff, with 10 deaths connected to this outbreak.
Meanwhile, in Fernie, where Interior Health declared a COVID-19 community cluster initially on Jan. 27:
- Since Jan. 1, a total of 97 people tested positive for COVID-19 in this region.
- No new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed since our last report on Feb. 12.
- A total of two COVID-19 cases are currently active and in self-isolation.
- Since reporting this cluster, 95 people have recovered.
Note: One case previously attributed to the Fernie region was from another jurisdiction and has been removed from the previous total of 98.
Interior Health said most of the recent COVID-19 transmission related to this community cluster occurred at social events and gatherings and that everyone is reminded that socialization must be limited to immediate household bubbles.