Seven people were lost to COVID-19 in Interior Health over the last three days.

By far the largest spike in deaths since the pandemic began, the total death count in the region is now at 17.

“Today is our most tragic report since the beginning of this devastating pandemic,” said Susan Brown, president and CEO, Interior Health. “Seven more people have lost their lives to COVID-19 throughout Interior Health. Some passed peacefully in long-term care while others were in hospital, and in each case I share sincere condolences to their loved ones and caregivers. It’s never easy to lose a member of our community, especially now after we have come so far in the fight against COVID-19. I urge everyone to redouble your efforts and focus on the important public health guidance that can prevent the spread of COVID-19 so that we may protect ourselves and loved ones this holiday season.”

Meanwhile, the province reported 41 deaths since December 18th and a total of 1,667 new cases.

The Ministry of Health tallied 283 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,084 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 21 in the Island Health region, 90 in the Northern Health region and 189 in the Interior Health region.

Of the 47,067 total cases in B.C., 35,455 have recovered while the rest are being monitored.

At this time, 341 people are currently hospitalized, 80 of which are in critical care. Interior Health reported 33 people in hospital with seven of them in ICU.

An update on vaccinations revealed that 3,644 front-line health-care workers received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in British Columbia. According to Dr. Bonnie Henry, over the next two days, vaccine deliveries will arrive in every health region, and public health teams are readying clinics to begin in the coming days.

Dr, Henry added on the night of the Solstice, “Today, on the longest night of the year, let’s do our part to give them the break they deserve. Let’s all share some light for our health-care workers and show them we care for them as much as they care for us.”