COVID-19 cases broken down by local health area for Dec. 13-19, 2020. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

COVID-19 cases broken down by local health area for Dec. 13-19, 2020. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

B.C.’s COVID-19 infection hotspots reach into remote Interior, North

Isolated areas offer greater difficulty for public health

By the time B.C. public health officials started releasing more localized information on COVID-19 infections, people were familiar with hotspots like Surrey and Abbotsford in the Fraser Health region.

Add to that list Smithers, Burns Lake, Nechako, Fort Nelson in the north and in southern B.C., Kettle Valley. Those are the local health areas where average daily coronavirus case numbers are small, but among the highest as a share of population. And rural and remote locations mean greater difficulty in infection containment and contact tracing.

Presenting the latest epidemic modelling, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry cautioned that the localized case information is reported by where infected people live, and does not show where people picked up the SARS-Cov-2 virus while travelling.

“As the number of cases of COVID-19 have increased over the past number of weeks and months, we are now able to present data by local health area, and that is a more granular understanding of where cases have been,” Henry said Dec. 23. “I will remind people that this is our average daily rate per 100,000 population, and local health area represents the communities where people live who have tested positive for COVID-19. That is our convention across the country that we report by where people live.”

Most identified cases are from clusters or exposures to a known infected person, and industrial work sites and meat processing plants have been a particular issue in the second surge of the virus.

RELATED: Rapid-response paramedics sent to Fort St. James

VIDEO: First Nations elders urge caution in traditional language

Henry said the arrival starting next week of the more portable Moderna vaccine allows for targeted immunization in remote communities, where contact tracing has been most difficult.

“It comes in boxes of 1,200 doses, but we can break it down into as small as 100 doses and take that out to different parts of communities around the province,” Henry said. “So that means we can start to address some of the urgent needs that we have to protect people in some of our remote and isolated, particularly First Nations communities, and also residents of long-term care homes, where we know the virus is causing the most damage.”

The target for December to February vaccinations includes 25,000 people in remote and isolated Indigenous communities. They are not identified, but one of the first outbreaks that scrambled the province’s mobile response team was at Fort St. James in the Nechako health area.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Record-setting high jumper Emma de Boer, who lives in Cloverdale and attends Holy Cross Regional High School in Fleetwood, will train and study architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) next fall. (submitted photo)
Surrey jumper on a high after recruitment by UPenn track team

High jumper Emma de Boer aims to leave Cloverdale for Philadelphia next fall

Surrey RCMP Gang Enforcement Team street check. (File photo)
Surrey RCMP gang enforcement team seizes five vehicles

This was over 13 days, as SGET continues to target gang activity in this city

File photo
Surrey to borrow $150 million for three major recreation projects

That’s for a sports complex in the city centre, a sports and ice complex in Cloverdale and a community centre in Newton

The White Birch proposal for a six-storey rental-only building at 1485 Fir St. was turned down by council on Monday night. (Contributed rendering)
White Birch developer feels ‘betrayed’ by City of White Rock council

Application for new rental building at 1485 Fir St. turned down by council

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
RCMP appeal for witnesses after hit-and-run leaves girl, 17, in critical condition

The Metro Vancouver teenager was found unconscious and critically injured after being hit: police

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read