Five COVID deaths reported in northern B.C.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix reported five more deaths linked to the COVID-19 pandemic  in the Northern Health region, during an public update on Monday afternoon.

Two of those deaths were linked to the ongoing outbreak at Jubilee Lodge in Prince George, a spokesperson for Northern Health said. The deaths bring the Northern Health region's death toll from the pandemic to 42.

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"Absolutely, Northern Health has had a very challenging few months," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said. "(But) I want to encourage people to keep doing what we're doing, because it is working, and it is saving lives."

The north saw 173 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday's update, Henry said.

The number of active cases wasn't provided, but on Monday the B.C. Centre for Disease Control reported 497 active cases in the Northern Health region – up by 59 since Friday.

There were 44 people hospitalized in the Northern Health region with COVID-19, including 16 in intensive care, the B.C. CDC reported.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 2,560 cases of COVID-19 in the north, of which 2,006 have recovered, according to the B.C. CDC.

On Monday, Northern Health reported a new COVID-19 exposures at DP Todd Secondary School from Jan. 5 to Jan. 6. There was also an exposure on Jan. 6 at Valemount Second School, and exposures on Jan. 4 at schools in Terrace, and Fort St. John.

Province-wide, there were 22 new COVID-related deaths since Friday's update, Henry said, bringing the province's death toll from the pandemic to 1,010.

There were 1,475 new cases over the weekend in B.C., but the number of active cases in the province dropped to 5,232 – down by 886.

There were 362 British Columbians hospitalized with COVID-19, including 72 in intensive care, as of Monday, the B.C. CDC reported.

As of Sunday, a total of 59,902 people had been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the province, Henry said.

"We do expect to fully use up all of the Pfizer vaccine we have in the province today," Henry said. "We are vaccinating as many high-risk people as possible."

All of the province's stock of the Moderna vaccine had either been administered, or was allocated for use, Henry added.

More doses of both vaccines were expected to arrive this week, she said. The province is expecting the supply of vaccine available to continue growing each month, Henry said, and expand significantly in March.

In the meantime, Henry called on British Columbians to continue following public health advice to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

"We are coming to that end-game. (But) we have limited vaccine, we still have virus circulating in the community," she said. "With cases of 500 a day, that can start to go up exponentially. We can get those down even further."

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