TERRACE, B.C. -- Health Minister Adrian Dix outlined some of the consequences of the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases in the Northern Health region today, as he urged the un-vaccinated to get their shots.

With hospitals in Northern B.C. swamped with COVID-19 patients, Dix says 12 patients have been transferred out of the region for critical care. Nine of them are COVID-19-positive.

He says 15 additional ICU beds are being dedicated for further patient transfers from Northern Health. 10 of them are in Lower Mainland and five are on Vancouver Island.

Dix says 167 non-urgent surgeries have also been postponed in Northern Health hospitals due to the recent wave of COVID-19 cases.

Contact tracers are also being added in the North, as well as other parts of the province. Northern Health's number of contact tracers will go up to 63.

In his pleas for people to get vaccinated, Dix noted that parts of the North with higher vaccination rates, such as Kitimat and Haida Gwaii, also have lower infection rates, whereas higher case rates are found in areas with lower vaccination rates.

"The consequences of these vaccination rates are clear. We see it in our hospitals. They put our health care workers and our system to the test, and of course they lead to people getting sick who do not need to be sick," he said.

"And I want to be clear -- we treat everybody with the best health care in the world. Our outcomes in the ICU are the best in the world. We are going to continue to do that. This is not a question of blaming people for being sick, but we need people to understand the critical importance of vaccination."

The Northern Health region currently has an average of 41 new cases per 100,000 members of the population. In contrast, the same rate is 19 per 100,000 for Interior Health and seven for Vancouver Coastal Health.