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

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Local health authority maps are updated each week. The brown maps show the number of confirmed and active cases of COVID-19 for the week of Jan. 15 to 21, with the blue map showing cases over the past year. (Image supplied)
COVID-19 outbreak numbers increase at Acropolis and exposures are up in S.D. 52

Business COVID-19 safety plans are law, public needs to follow health protocols - Northern Health

Asher Hauknes shows his strength with Prince Rupert Gymnastics head coach Erin Hipkiss looking on Nov. 13. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Gymnastics Association benefits from Community Gaming Grant

Prince Rupert sports club to receive just less than $90,000 to build new facility

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Prince Rupert Fire Rescue was dispatched to a boat fire on Jan. 21 at Fairview Marina. (Photo: supplied)
Boat fire under investigation

Prince Rupert Fire Rescue attended boat fire at Fairview Marina

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

Most Read