PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. -- The Bulkley-Nechako region saw a notable increase in COVID-19 cases last week, according to the latest weekly data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Most notably, the Nechako Local Health Area (LHA) – which includes municipalities such as Vanderhoof and Fort St. James – reported 86 new cases between August 29th and September 4th.

This development comes after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a press conference last week that cases had jumped significantly in that region. In the previous seven-day reporting period, the Nechako LHA reported 56 new cases.

Meanwhile, Smithers reported 45 new cases last week and Burns Lake reported 11. In the previous week, these municipalities had each reported 17 and two new cases, respectively.

These three areas have some of the highest per capita COVID-19 case rates in Northern B.C., reporting over 20 new cases per 100,000 individuals.

Closer to the coast, COVID-19 case rates are much lower.

Kitimat saw five new cases last week, while Prince Rupert recorded three, Nisga'a reported two and Haida Gwaii reported one.

Terrace had somewhat higher COVID-19 numbers, having reported 14 new cases last week. Upper Skeena saw three new cases, while the Snow Country – Stikine – Telegraph Creek region in the far-Northwest reported one new case.

The distribution of new cases last week roughly correlates with the vaccination rates throughout the Northwest. Areas with higher vaccination rates are also seeing lower case rates, while those with lower vaccination rates are seeing a surge in cases.

94 per cent of residents in the Kitimat LHA have received their first dose, making it the region with the second-highest first-dose vaccination rate in B.C., just behind the Central Coast.

Haida Gwaii has a first-dose rate of 86 per cent, while the rates for Nisga’a and Prince Rupert are 84 and 83 per cent, respectively.

For all four of these regions, second dose rates are between 72 to 80 per cent.

Around four-fifths of eligible residents in Terrace, Upper Skeena and the Snow Country – Stikine – Telegraph Creek region have received their first shot and over two-thirds have received their second.

In Smithers and Burns Lake, around 70 per cent of residents have received at least one dose and just over 60 per cent have had a second dose.

Vaccination rates in Nechako area remain low at 66 per cent for first doses and 57 per cent for second doses.

As of today (Sept. 9th), 85.3 per cent of people ages 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 77.8 per cent have received their second dose.