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B.C. reports 444 new cases of COVID-19

To date, more than 4,000 British Columbians have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 444 new active cases of COVID-19 on December 22. Photo via B.C. Government

Amid warnings from health officials that British Columbians should keep their holiday celebrations relegated to their own households, the number of new COVID-19 cases to be confirmed in the province drifted slightly downward Tuesday (December 22) compared with a day earlier.

The province is reporting 444 new cases, down from the 529 cases reported 24 hours earlier.

There have been 12 new deaths since Monday for a total of 777 COVID-19-related death since the pandemic unfolded in March.

The latest cases bring the province’s total to 47,510, while 9,481 of those remain active.

Immunizations of the novel coronavirus began a week ago today following the delivery of 3,900 doses of the Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE vaccine.

Since then, 4,108 British Columbians have received their first dose – the vaccine requires two doses about three weeks apart to be effective — as more deliveries have arrived.

Vaccinations were initially only available to health-care workers at two sites across the province: one in the Vancouver Coastal Health Region and a second in the Fraser Health Region.

Deliveries have now been made to nine different sites in each of B.C.’s health regions.

Vaccine clinics are now underway in the Island Health, Interior Health and Northern Health regions.

"Vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna have also provided guidance on how to safely transport the approved vaccines,” B.C. provincial health officer Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Dix said in a statement, making reference to the still-to-be approved vaccine from Moderna. 

“This means that as deliveries increase in the coming weeks, the vaccine will increasingly be available in more locations.”

Health Canada stated on Monday that it cannot provide a definitive timeline for when it will complete its review of the Moderna vaccine.

Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, which requires that it’s maintained at temperatures of -80C before it’s administered, the Moderna vaccine is easier to handle and transport as it requires cooling of just -20C.

So far the federal government had secured up to 168,000 doses of the vaccine that could be delivered by month’s end, pending regulatory approval.

Once given the green light by Health Canada, those Moderna doses are expected to arrive within 48 hours.

The new cases of COVID-19 reported since Monday can be broken down by the following health regions:

·      Vancouver Coastal: 79

·      Fraser: 256

·      Island: nine

·      Interior: 78

·      Northern: 22

"We have had two new health-care facility outbreaks at the rehabilitation unit at Laurel Place and at a further acute-care unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital. There has also been a new community outbreak at Highline Farms in the Fraser Health region,” Henry and Dix said in their joint statement.

There are 357 people who are hospitalized in the province due to COVID-19, while 84 of them are in intensive care.

Meanwhile, the province also announced Tuesday it was extending its temporary state of emergency to January 5, 2021, as part of efforts to respond to the pandemic.