555+491+460 new COVID-19 cases and 10 more deaths in B.C. since Friday

PROVINCIAL Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix on Monday announced a total of 1,506 new COVID-19 cases, including eight epi-linked cases, since Friday, bringing the total number of case in British Columbia to 88,373.

There were 555 new cases from March 12 to 13, 491 new cases from March 13 to 14, and 460 new cases in the last 24 hours.

There have been 10 new COVID-19-related deaths in the last three days, for a total of 1,407 deaths in the province.

Vaccine appointment bookings are now open for people over 84, adding one year each day this week for people 80 and older by the end of the week, along with Indigenous people over 65.

To date, 409,103 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 87,059 of which are second doses.

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There are 4,987 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 9,359 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases. A further 81,890 people who tested positive have recovered.

Of the active cases, 269 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 76 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.

There have been 382 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 840 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 75 in the Island Health region, 80 in the Interior Health region, 129 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

There have been 163 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in our province over the last three days, for a total of 880 cases. Of the total cases, 195 are active and the remaining people have recovered. This includes 818 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, 41 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 21 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.

There has been one new health-care facility outbreak at UBC Hospital. The health-care outbreaks at Shaughnessy Care Centre and Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre are now over.

There has been one new community outbreak at Vitrum Glass Group. The outbreak at the North Fraser Pretrial Services Centre is now over.

Henry and Dix said: “From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our provincial response has changed and adapted based on the latest information, the tools we have available to us and where the greatest risks may be. This will continue to be the case, because it is what is required for the ever-evolving challenges of this pandemic.

“A year ago, our focus was to slow the spread. Now, we have three safe and effective vaccines to protect people around the province.

“With the majority of our seniors and Elders in care immunized, our mass clinics got underway today.

“While the bulk of our available vaccine is focused on our age-based immunization program, we are using the AstraZeneca/SII COVISHIELD vaccine to assist with our community outbreak response – to help break the chains of transmission in communities and worksites that are highest risk. Earlier today in a statement, we announced how the first deployment of AstraZeneca vaccine would be administered in worksites throughout B.C.

“This is a time of hope, as more people get immunized. But it is also time of caution, because the virus continues to circulate in many communities.

“That means we need to stay outside and continue with our safety precautions of few faces, open spaces and safety layers in place.

“It is also important to note this change does not supersede the restrictions that remain in place at restaurants and bars, which continue to have a limit of no more than six people at a table – indoors or out.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is still here and we are still facing headwinds. But we also have lots of momentum to push us forward. Let’s use that momentum to get through this pandemic safely.”

Earlier statement by Henry and Dix regarding British Columbia’s COVID-19 response:

“As the first doses of AstraZeneca/SII (AZ/SII) arrive in B.C., work is underway to use this vaccine to assist with outbreak response in communities and protect workers throughout the province.

“When B.C. initially launched its COVID-19 Immunization Plan, we were hopeful additional vaccines would be approved so we could allocate them to priority and front-line workers and industries ahead of Phase 3.

“Now, the initial shipment of AZ/SII vaccine will be used to protect workers in industries where full use of personal protective equipment and barriers can be challenging, outbreaks and clusters have occurred or are ongoing, and workers must live or work in congregate settings. These efforts will complement B.C.’s foundational age-based immunization plan.

“Immunizing workers in these settings will not only protect workers, it will also protect the communities around them, including many rural, remote and Indigenous communities.

“By deploying AZ/SII in this way, B.C. will be able to manage outbreaks, prevent them before they occur and deploy vaccines strategically to reduce COVID-19 transmission in B.C.

“Public health and WorkSafeBC have identified the highest risk categories of worksites through the COVID-19 Workplace Task Group established by the PHO in November 2020. These include:

* food processing plants, including poultry, fruit and fish processing;

* agricultural operations with congregate worker accommodations, including farms, nurseries and greenhouses;

* large industrial camps under the PHO Industrial Camps order with congregate accommodations for workers; and

* other large congregate living settings for workers where isolation and quarantine is difficult and outbreaks are ongoing.

“Remember, the best vaccine for you is the one available now. The BC Immunization Committee is reviewing the latest data and recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to determine additional workplaces that will be prioritized for immunization using the AZ/SII vaccine. The updated plan for additional shipments of AZ/SII vaccine will be released in the coming days.”