COVID-19 returns to the north

One new case of COVID-19 was reported in the Northern Health region on Monday, bringing the total number of cases of the disease in the region since the start of the pandemic to 65.

Last week northern B.C. was COVID-19 free for several days, after the last active case had recovered.

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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there were a total of 29 new test-positive cases across B.C. since her last update on Friday. There have now been 2,659 cases in B.C. since the beginning of the pandemic. 

“We’ve had another case in the north. (But) the majority of the new cases are in Fraser Health. They are all linked to known outbreaks," Henry said. "There has been no unlinked cases in the community recently."

Some of the new cases in the province are linked to large family gathering that happened in the Lower Mainland, she said.

In total, 2,309 people in B.C. – including 64 in the north – have now fully recovered from COVID-19. There are 183 active cases remaining in the province, Henry said, including 16 people who are hospitalized for the disease. Of those hospitalized, four were in intensive care.

The one COVID-19 patient in northern B.C. was not hospitalized as of Monday.

There were no new deaths linked to COVID-19 since Friday, leaving the provincial death toll from the pandemic at 167. There have been no deaths linked to COVID-19 in the north.

Summer is coming, Henry said, and many people may be thinking about travelling.

"Like other activities... our travel will be different this year," she said. "Some towns are regions which are reliant on tourism are eager to welcome all British Columbian residents and Canadians to visit. We can all enjoy this summer and do it safely."

Depending on what happens in the next week or two, the province may be ready to move into Phase 3 of its B.C. Restart Plan, which would allow additional travel and hospitality-based businesses to reopen, she said. However, when that announcement will be made will depend on what happens on the day-to-day level with number of new cases, she said.

"(And) we need to be aware of where we are going. Contact the local tourism information office to see what services will be available," Henry said. "If you are going to a smaller community, we need to be as self-sufficient as possible. The same goes for camping."

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said international tourism to and from the province are unlikely to resume in the near term. COVID-19 outbreaks in places like Washington state, Oregon, California and Arizona continue to be serious, with many new cases each day, Dix said.

"I don't see it as practical to have Canadians going to the United States and coming back, or Americans coming to visit," Dix said. "We all have to remain vigilant, especially at the border."

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