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B.C. health officials have extended the ban on social gatherings for another month as the province recorded 761 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, January 7 and eight more deaths.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the current orders, including a ban on gatherings with people outside of one's immediate household, will continue to apply until Feb. 5 at midnight.

"This is the riskiest time right now," Henry said. "We cannot let our guard down as vaccine is just beginning." 

Thursday marked the highest one-day case tally since Dec. 2 and comes two weeks after the holiday period, which officials have feared would lead to a rise in cases. 

Henry attributed the spike in cases to changes in how the province collects data, but she cautioned the province's curve is trending upward.   

"We need to protect our seniors and elders even as we're moving toward our immunization program," she said, growing visibly emotional. 

"It's compassion and understanding that we need now to get us through these dark days."

The ban applies to all in-person events and gatherings, including cinemas and theatre performances, as well as high-intensity fitness classes and adult indoor and outdoor team sports. 

People who live alone can continue to see one or two people in their bubble. 

The province's non-essential travel advisory remains in place, including travel into and out of B.C., and between regions.

Source: CBC News