Dr. Bonnie Henry reported on five days of COVID-19 testing, announcing an additional 2,206 cases, with positive cases dropping below 500 per day for the last four days in BC.

Of those 2,206 cases, 238 were in the Interior.

Another 74 deaths were reported over the last five days, a particularly difficult statistic for families considering the holiday season. The total number of deaths in BC so far have been 882.

Vaccinations continued over the Christmas season, with nearly 12,000 doses being administered.

“To date we have delivered 11,930 doses of vaccine to people across BC in every health region now,” said Dr. Henry.

“This is all the Pfizer vaccine, but as we know the Moderna vaccine was licensed for use on Dec. 23… and it will be arriving in BC. Some has arrived today and some will be arriving tomorrow and in the next days.”

Dr. Henry noted that the weather conditions were unpredictable and that had stalled deliveries in some cases.

However, it is now possible for the Pfizer vaccine to be moved and it is being used in long term care homes, particularly in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health Regions, as well as in the Interior and Northern Health.

The Moderna vaccine will be going to a number of remote and isolated First Nations communities, as well as long term care homes.

“The Moderna vaccine will be used particularly in the North and Interior and some parts of the Island to be able to provide immunization to long term care homes that are in smaller communities,” said Dr. Henry.

Of those nearly 12,000 vaccinations, two caused allergic reactions.

“This is not unexpected given what we have learned about the Messenger-RNA vaccines and what we have seen in other jurisdictions,” assured Dr. Henry, who also said that both of the healthcare workers who suffered allergic reactions were treated and had fully recovered.

Dr. Henry also provided the public with more information about the first case of the UK variant of the coronavirus that had been identified in BC.

“Over the weekend as well we issued a statement that we had ID’d here in BC our first case of a person here infected with the COVID-19 UK variant known as B1.1.7,” said Dr. Henry.

“This person had returned to BC from the UK and had been in federal quarantine at their residence as they were expected to do.”

During the quarantine period, the person developed symptoms, and tested positive for COVID-19. While the nasal swab, which is the standard test for the virus, cannot confirm whether or not it is a variant, genome sequencing can.

“The BC CDC went back to look at anybody who had tested positive on our regular test over the last few weeks and then did the whole genome sequencing to see if any of them were actually carrying this variant,” explained Dr. Henry.

“So far, this is the first case that has shown up.”

Dr. Henry cautioned that there may be cause for alarm, as this variant may be considered more infectious than what we had previously been dealing with.

“The details are still unclear, but it does seem in the UK that it causes the virus to be more infectious, and there’s one particular mutation on the spike protein that may make the virus bind more easily to the ACE two receptors at the back of our throat and nose, and thus make it more easy for someone to be infected with a smaller dose of the virus,” said Dr. Henry.

At this point, Dr. Henry urges people to continue to follow restrictions and guidelines regarding reduction of the spread of COVID-19, particularly as the holiday season comes to an end and people are more inclined to “bend the rules”.

“I want to remind people that our current events and gatherings orders means that any gathering, in your home or elsewhere, any social gathering is not allowed at this time.”