B.C. health officials are extending some new public health restrictions to the Northern Health region of the province as COVID-19 cases there continue to grow.
The restrictions will be similar to some of those currently in place in the Interior Health region.
This means any community in the Northern Health region, starting on Sept. 7, will be under the following restrictions:
- Indoor personal gatherings will be limited to one other family or five people
- Organized outdoor events over 200 people will need a COVID safety plan in place
- Personal outdoor gatherings, such as birthday parties or barbecues, will be limited to 50 people
The province-wide mask mandate continues in all health regions. The vaccine card is still on track for Sept. 13.
According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, some local health areas in Northern Health have some of the worst-case rates of COVID-19 for every 100,000 people.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the “vast majority” of people in Northern Health hospitals right now, about 90 per cent, are unvaccinated individuals.
He said most of the population over 65 in the region have been vaccinated but the population under 65 are not getting vaccinated at a rate they would like to see.
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On Tuesday, during the latest modelling presentation, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in the areas where stricter measures have been put in place, particularly in the Central Okanagan, officials are now seeing the case rates come down.
Henry added there are still challenges in this region, particularly in regards to the forest fires burning and the challenges of setting up vaccine clinics that people can attend.
But rates are still rising in the north, particularly in the areas of Nechako, Fort. St James, Vanderhoof and Prince George area.
“We also see some higher rates in areas of low immunization in the Northern Health region,” Henry said.
“And some of those areas, in the Nechako for example, very small numbers can lead to high rates per population because it is a small population. But it does give us an indication that we need to pay attention to some of these areas as well, where we’re starting to see now rising clusters in cases.”
She also said Thursday they have seen transmission in the work camps.
In the last 10 days, there has been a six-times increase rate of transmission, Henry added, which has led to high capacity in the hospitals.
On Thursday, COVID-19 cases continued to mount in British Columbia Thursday, as health officials announced 801 new cases and six additional deaths.
It lifted the seven-day average for new cases to 708, the highest it has been since early May.
Of the new cases, 267 were in the Fraser Health region, 128 were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 237 were in the Interior Health region, 103 were in the Northern Health region and 66 were in the Island Health region.
There were 5,931 active cases across the province.