564 new COVID-19 cases and 4 more deaths in B.C.

The first deliveries of the AstraZeneca-Serum Institute of India COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in B.C. in the coming days

DR. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, on Thursday announced 564 new cases, including 12 epi-linked cases, of COVID-19, for a total of 82,473 cases in British Columbia.

There have been four new COVID-19-related deaths, for a total of 1,376 deaths in the province.

To date, 298,851 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 86,746 of which are second doses. Immunization data is available on the COVID-19 dashboard at: www.bccdc.ca.

There are 4,743 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 8,659 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases. A further 76,289 people who tested positive have recovered.

Of the active cases, 248 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 64 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.

There have been 168 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 279 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 35 in the Island Health region, 36 in the Interior Health region, 46 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

There have been 46 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in the province, for a total of 246 cases. Of the total cases, 16 are active and the remaining people have recovered. This includes 218 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant and 28 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant.

There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks.

Henry and Dix added: “Here in B.C., we are in a new place in the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now getting a regular supply of COVID-19 vaccines that is increasing our protection, but we are also still seeing an uptick in new cases.

“We can’t let the successes of the vaccines be diminished with a surge in new cases in those who will be immunized in the months ahead. This is why our layers of protection need to continue to be top of mind for all of us.

“The first deliveries of the AstraZeneca-Serum Institute of India COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in our province in the coming days. This vaccine will be made available to first responders and essential workers. The delivery will run parallel with our age-based, community-wide immunization program.

“Here in B.C., we have the BC Immunization Committee (BCIC), which is the provincial-level equivalent of the National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI).

“The BCIC prescribes the recommended vaccine prioritization, using the guidance provided by NACI, along with established public health and ethical frameworks. Based on its recommendations, a detailed plan will be developed for the AstraZeneca-Serum Institute of India vaccines, which will be shared later in the month.

“As part of our ongoing COVID-19 response, we are also using point-of-care rapid testing as another tool to support our public health contact tracing and outbreak response efforts.

“While less reliable than the highly effective polymerase chain reaction tests used in our labs, point-of-care tests will continue to be used as part of public health outbreak response in rural and remote communities and at some worksites and community living locations.

“Private worksites may choose to adopt point-of-care testing. These locations must be accredited and meet all quality assurance requirements, and must immediately report all positive test results to public health and regional health authorities for followup.

“For any workplace considering using these tests, it is important to remember these tests do not replace any of the public health orders, protective measures or COVID-19 safety plans required for all B.C. workplaces.

“Our COVID-19 pandemic has required a whole-of-province response and for everyone to do their part. It is about using all of the tools we have available to us as much as possible and protecting as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

“Brighter days are ahead. Let’s continue to stay the course with our safety measures, staying small and local, so we can get there even faster.”