South African COVID-19 variant found in B.C.

Health officials continue to monitor for possible variants of COVID-19 in B.C.

Meantime, Henry noted 69,746 people have received their initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday that the case, which turned up in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, was a person not known to have travelled or to have had contact with someone who had travelled.

Also Thursday, Dr. Henry announced 536 new cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia, with seven additional deaths linked to the virus.

At the end of December, Dr. Henry announced the first case of a person in B.C. infected with the British variant, a resident of the Island Health region who returned to B.C. from Britain on a Dec. 15 flight.

The variant is more infectious than the original COVID-19 virus and has rapidly become dominant in South Africa's coastal areas.

"This is concerning for public health".

She said with concern about the new variants, the province was looking at new ways to do screening, including testing wastewater.

There are 4,624 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday, down almost 200 from Wednesday, with 362 people in hospital including 74 in critical and intensive care.

There are 52 outbreaks in long-term care and assisted-living facilities and 12 outbreaks in acute-care hospitals.

While health officials are still investigating where the source of the variant came from, Henry says that "it does not seem to have spread in the community beyond the person we have identified".

The U.K. strain also spreads more easily and has been blamed in that country for record-high cases and surging hospitalizations.

He says the inspectors will have the power to issue tickets of up to $750 to store supervisors, workers, or patrons if they're not following public health rules.

Racism and discrimination hurt us all and have no place in our society.

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