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B.C. confirms 624 new cases of COVID-19, for total of 45,400

There were 11 new COVID-19-related deaths announced Friday
bc pho dr. bonnie henry coronavirus update december 9
B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update about the status of the province's COVID-19 pandemic response on Dec. 9.

There have now been a total of 45,400 cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in B.C. after health officials announced 624 new cases Friday, Dec. 18.

Four of the new cases are epi-linked.

In a written briefing, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix reported 106 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 406 in the Fraser Health region, five in the Island Health region, 60 in Interior Health, and 47 in the Northern Health region.  

There have been no new cases among people who normally reside outside of Canada.

There were 11 new COVID-19 related deaths announced Friday, for a total of 724 deaths in British Columbia.

There were no new health-care facility outbreaks reported in the province, and one new community outbreaks at Rossdown Natural Foods, a poultry processing plant in Abbotsford. 

Of the total COVID-19 cases, 356 individuals are currently hospitalized, 92 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people who presently have COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation. There are 10,211 people under active public health monitoring at this time, due to exposure to the virus.

As of Dec. 18, there are 9,978 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C., while 33,589 people have recovered from the virus. 

Public alerts and notifications continue to be posted to the BC Centre for Disease Control’s (BCCDC) website and on all four health authorities’ websites.

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to front-line health-care workers

Yesterday, B.C. front-line health-care workers received 1,376 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, for a total of 2,592 doses doled out to date.  "That is a great testament to the work of the public health clinics and to health care workers who have stepped up," said Henry during Thursday's COVID-19 briefing. 

Starting next week, the province will receive weekly vaccine deliveries for clinics in every health region throughout the province. Specific timing will be provided once confirmed, according to health officials.

“The focus of our immunization program right now is to safely protect as many people as possible as efficiently as we can, but we have to remember that this is a global effort with many aspects often changing," advised Henry and Dix in the joint statement issued Friday afternoon. "As more vaccine arrives in the coming weeks, we all need to be patient and continue to follow public health orders to keep our communities safe."

'This holiday season will be like no other'

In Friday's written briefing, the provincial health officer and minister of health acknowledged that British Columbians are “all looking to find creative and safe ways to connect with our families, friends and loved ones" this holiday season. The pair offered up a few COVID-friendly suggestions, such as a virtual dinner, watching your favourite holiday flick from the comfort of your couch, hosting an online games night, a scavenger hunt with friends or even a virtual holiday bake-off. 

“This holiday season is about finding ways to celebrate safely, knowing that what we are doing now will help ensure we can safely spend time with our loved ones in the new year," they wrote. 

They also took the opportunity to encourage British Columbians to shop local if they're in need of last-minute holiday gifts. "We encourage everyone to be patient and kind to your fellow shoppers and to use your layers of protection to keep you, and those around you, safe," they said. 

“This holiday season will be like no other. It will be a quieter time than what many of us are used to, but it is important to remember that we will get through this storm.

“The steps we take in the last days of 2020 are going to ensure a brighter, healthier and safer 2021 for all of us.”