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B.C. Southern Interior reports highest number of COVID-19 deaths since pandemic began

Click to play video: 'Interior Health confirms death of resident in Okanagan care home due to COVID-19 complications' Interior Health confirms death of resident in Okanagan care home due to COVID-19 complications
Interior Health confirms death of resident in Okanagan care home due to COVID-19 complications – Dec 15, 2020

B.C.’s Southern Interior recorded a grim milestone over the weekend, with the highest number of COVID-19-related deaths since the pandemic began.

Health officials said Monday that seven more people had lost their lives to the disease. Some were long-term care residents, while others died in hospital.

A total of 17 people have now died of COVID-19 in the Interior Health region.

“Today is our most tragic report since the beginning of this devastating pandemic,” Susan Brown, president and CEO of the health authority, said.

Read more: Interior Health ramps up testing for COVID-19 in Penticton, B.C.

“In each case, I share sincere condolences to their loved ones and caregivers. It’s never easy to lose a member of our community, especially now after we have come so far in the fight against COVID-19.”

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Four of the deaths over the weekend occurred at the McKinney Place long-term care home in Oliver, which has been devastated by the infectious disease.

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Coronavirus: Big White cancels reservations amid COVID-19 cluster – Dec 18, 2020

Seven people connected to the home have died since an outbreak was declared in early December.

The care home has recorded 73 cases, including 53 residents and 20 staff.

Read more: B.C. reports 1,667 new COVID-19 cases over three days, 41 deaths

The outbreak at Village by the Station care home in Penticton remains at four cases, including two residents and two staff.

The Mountainview Village long-term care home in Kelowna has 14 cases: seven residents and seven staff. Their facility has recorded one death related to the coronavirus.

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There are 76 cases related to the community cluster at the Big White Ski Resort, with an update expected on Tuesday.

Read more: Coronavirus: Employees fired in wake of community cluster at Big White Ski Resort

Click to play video: 'Pandemic protocols in place at Okanagan ski hills' Pandemic protocols in place at Okanagan ski hills
Pandemic protocols in place at Okanagan ski hills – Dec 17, 2020

As of Monday, there were 721 active cases of COVID-19 in the Interior Health region overall, with 33 people in hospital, including seven in intensive care.

At her news conference, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry discussed the logistical challenges of getting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to more rural and remote areas of B.C.

Read more: COVID-19 outbreak declared at two Coastal GasLink worksites, 27 workers infected

“We focused on the Lower Mainland because that’s where rates and numbers of transmission of disease are highest, but also where they were ready to start and had the appropriate things in place,” Henry said.

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The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at ultra-low temperatures, and the goal is to take it into long-term care homes to immunize staff and residents once it is safe to transport.

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Concerns about B.C. First Nations not having access to COVID-19 data – Dec 17, 2020

“The immunization clinics that will be starting tomorrow in the north and in the Interior will be focused on people coming to receive the vaccine, but as soon as we can, we will be moving out into the community,” Henry said.

The Moderna vaccine will be less onerous to store and can be shipped out across the province in smaller doses, she added, once it is approved by Health Canada.

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