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No active COVID cases in northern B.C.

There have been just 14 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date in northeast B.C., and all cases throughout the north have now recovered, according to new information released by the province June 4.
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This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the spherical particles of the new coronavirus, colorized blue, from the first U.S. case of COVID-19.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hannah A. Bullock, Azaibi Tamin/CDC via AP

There have been just 14 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date in northeast B.C., and all cases throughout the north have now recovered, according to new information released by the province June 4.

The northeast represents one-fifth of the caseload in the Northern Health region, which has seen 64 cases since the coronavirus outbreak began at the start of this year. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday all those cases have now recovered, and called it good news.

“That really reflects the work of communities and the work of public health in the north, because one can look back retrospectively and say that was relatively little compared to what one might have expected,” Minister Dix said. “The risk in the north was always a consideration, always high."

“For people in the north, the fact the cases that we’ve identified and tested positive are all resolved, as they are in Vancouver Island, as they are in Interior Health, is all good news," he said. 

Most of the cases in the Northern Health region have been in the northern interior, which includes Prince George, where there were 36 cases reported between Jan. 22 to May 31. There were 14 cases recorded to the end of May in northwest B.C. 

The data comes from provincial health officer Dr Bonnie Henry, who presented an epidemiology update about the introduction of the virus and its spread in B.C.

The province predictably saw its first cases in January and February from viral strains out of Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus originated.

But other strains of the virus were imported from Iran, Europe, and Eastern Canada, which Dr Henry said “flooded” the province in early March, when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic.

B.C. has also seen viral strains imported from Washington state, Dr Henry said, while the transmission of strains from China and Iran has stabilized.

There were 6,433 tests in northern B.C. as of June 4, and most of the cases have been related to travel, Dr Henry said. The Blueberry River First Nation was the centre of a small community outbreak in April, which the band has since declared over. 

Thursday's update included a breakdown of cases by health service area – subsections of the province's five large health authority areas.

"I know it's not as granular as many people would like. We will have that more granular data coming publicly in the coming weeks," Henry said. "(But) there have been no communities that have not been impacted by COVID-19. It does tell us the Lower Mainland was disproportionately impacted by COVID-19."

There have been no new cases in northeast and northwest B.C. over the past 14 days. That’s due to low levels of transmission in most parts of the province, Dr Henry said.

Northern B.C. is also the only health region in the province to have had no deaths linked to the pandemic to date.

There are now 2,632 cases confirmed in B.C. Of those, 2,265 people have recovered.

There have been 166 deaths, and 201 cases remain active, with 26 people in hospital, six of them in critical care.

“Across the province, we’ve all taken the measures that we’ve needed to stop this in all our communities,” Dr Henry said. But, “the risk is still out there,” she added. 

There were 18 active cases, 217 recoveries, and 16 deaths reported in northern Alberta as of June 4. There are 12 active cases in the city of Grande Prairie.

View Dr Henry's notes from her epidemiology update below:

Province of B.C. - COVID-19 Modelling June 4 Update by AlaskaHighwayNews on Scribd

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.