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What you need to know about COVID-19 in BC for Dec. 18

B.C. has confirmed 673 more cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 21 more deaths.

THE LATEST:

  • Applications for the B.C. Recovery Benefit are now open.
  • The province is ramping up enforcement of public health orders to ensure more people are following its mask mandate and social gathering restrictions.
  • 21 new deaths related to COVID-19 were reported on Thursday.
  • 673 new cases of the disease were also confirmed.
  • There are 10,009 active cases of COVID-19 across the province.
  • 358 patients are in hospital, with 93 in intensive care.

Applications for the B.C. Recovery Benefit are now open, as the holidays inch closer and the province surpasses 10,000 active cases of COVID-19.

Eligible adults in the province could start applying online for the $1,000 benefit as of 8:30 a.m. PT, but heavy demand crashed the government site almost immediately.

In a tweet, the province said the site was seeing "extremely high volume" and asked people to be patient while it works on the issue.

Families with incomes under $125,000 will be eligible to receive $1,000 and families earning up to $175,000 will qualify for a reduced amount. Single-parent families also qualify for these benefit amounts.

Single people earning less than $62,500 qualify for a $500 payment and individuals earning up to $87,500 will qualify for a reduced amount. The criteria is based on 2019 tax returns.

B.C. confirmed another 673 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, meaning the province now has more than 10,000 active cases of the disease for the first time since the pandemic began. Twenty-one more people had died.

There were 358 people in hospital as of Thursday afternoon, with 93 in the intensive care unit.

Also on Thursday, Henry announced new guidelines for COVID-19 testing. She said anyone who has had contact with a known case and has any possible symptoms should get tested immediately.

There are four key symptoms that should also prompt immediate testing, irrespective of whether there has been any contact with a COVID-19 case. The symptoms are fever or chills, cough, loss of sense of smell or taste, and difficulty breathing.

Symptoms like sore throat, loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea are a lower priority for testing. Anyone experiencing one or two of those symptoms should wait 24 hours and then get tested if they still feel the same or worse.

On a more positive note, Henry said 1,215 workers in the B.C. health-care system have received the COVID-19 vaccine this week, and she expects more doses of the vaccine to arrive weekly from now on.

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What's happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 4:30 a.m. PT Friday, Canada's COVID-19 case count stood at 488,638, with 76,310 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 13,916.

A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 13,799.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Loss of taste or smell.
  • Headache.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or o​​​​​​ther extreme symptoms should call 911.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean.
  • Keep your distance from people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

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