British Columbia has set a sombre new record in its COVID-19 pandemic response, with 28 deaths in a 24-hour period.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the fatalities along with 723 new cases of the virus at her Thursday briefing.

Twelve of the deaths were in the Fraser Health region, 15 were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and one was on Vancouver Island. All but two of the new deaths were in residential care facilities, Henry said.

“These are family, these are friends, these are people who had interesting and challenging lives,” she said.

“This is a profoundly difficult day for every single one one of those families, for the community and for all of us,” added Health Minister Adrian Dix.

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“It underscores our point, I think, that even as we receive vaccine and see potentially a better future in 2021 that our work to save lives must and will continue for some time to go.”

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It means 587 people have now died of the virus so far in B.C. — 146 of whom were reported in December alone.

Most of Thursday’s new cases were in the Fraser Health region (456) and Vancouver Coastal Health region (135).

Eighty-two were in the Interior Health region, 40 were in the Northern Health region and 10 were on Vancouver Island.

The province also had a record 83 people in critical or intensive care, part of the 346 people in hospital with COVID-19.

There were 9,524 active cases in B.C., and another 11,947 people isolating due to possible exposure.

About 72 per cent of B.C.’s 40,060 total cases have recovered.

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