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DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – The flow of ICU patients from facilities in the Northern Health region continues, and MLA Mike Bernier says doctors down south are beginning to call him, saying their hospitals are full with patients from the north.

In a COVID-19 update on Tuesday, Health Minister Adrian Dix says 55 critical care patients have been transferred from Northern health to hospitals in the south. Of those, 43 are positive with COVID-19 and 14 were transferred between Friday to Monday.

Bernier says he doesn’t enjoy the position the region finds itself in. He wishes he wasn’t one of the faces pushing for increased vaccinations in the region, and that the Peace region was leading the way in immunizations, but he says “it’s tough when we’re not doing well up here.”

“Dr. Henry told the media this morning that in Northeastern British Columbia, the negative impacts of us not being vaccinated are now affecting hospitals across the province because so many people are being medevaced out and are taking up beds in Nanaimo, Kamloops, Victoria and others,” said Bernier.

“I’ve had doctors down there calling me, saying everything you can do to keep getting more people safe up there helps us down here because our beds are now taken up with Dawson Creek residents.”

Bernier says in his 20 years in politics, he’s used to having constituents who disagree with him and even argue that he’s wrong. However, he says the polarization and personal attacks have been unlike anything he’s seen before.

“People have really personalized it more. I’ve been in politics 20 years, so I’m used to being the dartboard, but it’s become so polarizing and everybody wants you to take their side. I’m just hoping people choose to get vaccinated based on the information, based on the science, based on everything that’s out there that is factual, that shows that this is the right thing to do and the safest thing to do, not only for you but for your family and your neighbours as well.”

“If you want to say I’m a lying politician and you don’t trust me, fair enough. Go talk to your doctor, because I know the majority of doctors in the region are also saying the same message.

In the weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday, Dr. Bonnie Henry said the majority of cases are among unvaccinated individuals.

“COVID-19 is spreading at a higher than average rate, people are becoming severely ill —even young people, mostly unvaccinated— and hospitals are pushed to the limit across the north,” said Henry.

The provincial health officer and her colleagues are concerned with what they see in the north. Henry says she is working with Northern Health to determine what additional measures are needed to “break the chains of transmission.”

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