Terrace recorded 54 new COVID-19 cases between Oct. 3 to Oct. 9, 2021. (British Columbia Centre for Disease Control)

Terrace recorded 54 new COVID-19 cases between Oct. 3 to Oct. 9, 2021. (British Columbia Centre for Disease Control)

New COVID-19 cases in Smithers jump again to 73

Dr. Bonnie Henry said public health leaders are “very concerned” about the situation in the north

New COVID-19 cases in the Smithers Local Health Area (LHA) jumped again to 73 for the week of Oct. 3 to Oct. 9, up from 56 in the previous reporting period.

New cases are also surging in other Northwest LHAs. Terrace reported 54 new cases, more than double the cases reported the previous week (Sept. 26 to Oct. 2). Prince Rupert’s number of new cases tripled from five to 15, according to the latest British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) data.

Kitimat also saw a moderate increase from 12 to 18 new cases.

There was one new case on Haida Gwaii and one in the Nisga’a LHA.

The BCCDC figures for the Nass Valley may differ from the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority’s statistics because of differences in the way those organizations report cases.

There were nine new cases in the combined Snow Country – Stikine – Telegraph Creek LHAs, amid an outbreak in Tahltan communities. There were 25 new cases in the Upper Skeena LHA.

Further east, there were 31 new cases in Burns Lake, 65 in Nechako and 284 in Prince George.

According to the BCCDC, Kitimat has hit 85 per cent of eligible people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — the only LHA in Northern Health higher than the province-wide average of 83.4 per cent as of Oct. 13.

Two dose percentages for eligible residents in Northwest LHAs as of Oct. 12 (per cent change from the previous week is indicated by brackets):

Kitimat — 85 per cent (+1)

Haida Gwaii — 82 per cent (+1)

Prince Rupert — 78 per cent (+1)

Nisga’a — 78 per cent (+1)

Snow Country – Stikine – Telegraph Creek — 76 per cent (+1)

Terrace — 75 per cent (+1)

Upper Skeena — 73 per cent (+2)

Smithers — 67 per cent (+1)

B.C.’s health ministry transferred another 14 critically ill patients from Northern B.C. hospitals to the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island over the Thanksgiving weekend, as the spread of COVID-19 continues to overtax the health care system in areas where vaccination rates are lower.

A total of 55 critical care patients have been transferred from the Northern Health region since the fourth wave of coronavirus forced the restriction of surgeries and transfers to hospitals in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Oct. 12. Of those patients, 43 had active COVID-19 infections and all but one were not fully vaccinated, he said.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said public health leaders are “very concerned” about the situation in the North. Dix said two additional aircraft have been contracted to transfer patients to southern hospitals, after 23 additional critical care beds have been added, bringing the total for the Northern Health region to 63.

From Oct. 5-11, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 68 per cent of cases in B.C. and from Sept. 28-Oct. 11, they accounted for 73.4 per cent of hospitalizations

Northern Health is booking vaccine appointments and offering drop-in clinics for first and second doses.

In the Smithers area, people can book appointments or drop in at the Healthy Living Centre on Main Street today (Oct. 14), Oct. 19 and Oct. 21 for first and second doses between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

There will also be a drop-in mobile clinic at Coast Mountain College on Saturday (Oct. 16) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information or to book an appointment, visit the Northern Health website or call 1-833-838-2323.

—With files from Tom Fletcher and Thom Barker