Active COVID cases on the rise in northern B.C.

Three new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the Northern Health region on Thursday, as Northern Health warned residents to avoid large gatherings over the long weekend.

Statistics released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control on Thursday showed the number of active cases in the north grew to 44. Five people in the Northern Health region were hospitalized with COVID-19, including three people in intensive care.

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"The recent trend of increasing COVID-19 cases, many linked to large gatherings and other social interactions, has also been noted in the (Northern Health) region," a statement issued by Northern Health said. "The Northeast health service delivery area is currently the most active in terms of new cases being identified through testing and contact tracing. And a COVID-19 public exposure alert, for recent events and gatherings in the Prespatou region, remains in effect."

Northern Health is divided into three health service delivery areas Northwest (including Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, etc.), Northern Interior (including Prince George, Mackenzie, Quesnel, etc.) and Northeast (including the B.C. Peace country).

A case map released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control on Thursday shows there were 32 new cases of COVID-19 in the Northeast, eight in the Northwest and six in the Northern Interior in the past two weeks.

Throughout B.C. there were 89 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Thursday, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said. Public health officials were monitoring 1,175 active cases and more than 2,800 people who may have been exposed, she said.

Thirty-four people in the province were hospitalized, including 11 in critical care.

One long-term care resident in the Fraser Health region succumbed to COVID-19, increasing the province's death toll from the pandemic to 210.

B.C. has now had a total of 6,041 cases since the start of the pandemic.

The province continues to have low transmission of COVID-19, compared to other jurisdictions in Canada and internationally, Henry said, but the province is nearing the tipping point.

"We don't want the numbers to increase any further," she said. "We're a that limit, we're at that precipice, if you will. Our focus needs to be on keeping that balance."

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