622 new COVID-19 cases and 8 more deaths in B.C.

PROVINCIAL Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix on Thursday announced 622 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases in British Columbia to 90,049.

There have been eight new COVID-19-related deaths, and the total number of deaths in the province now stands at 1,419.

To date, 465,584 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-SII COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C., 87,120 of which are second doses. Vaccine appointment bookings are open for people over 81 today and for people 80 and older tomorrow, along with Indigenous peoples over 65.

There are 4,941 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 9,620 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases. A further 83,613 people who tested positive have recovered.

Of the active cases, 286 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 85 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.

There have been 184 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 317 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 35 in the Island Health region, 30 in the Interior Health region, 54 in the Northern Health region and two new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

There have been 136 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in our province, for a total of 1,132 cases. Of the total cases, 143 are active and the remaining people have recovered. This includes 1,040 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, 41 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 51 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.

There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks. The outbreak at Chartwell Hampton House is now over.

Henry and Dix added: “With the steady supply of three safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in B.C., we are making meaningful strides in our provincewide pandemic response and immunization program.

“Today, we provided an update on both our broad age-based immunization program, using Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, as well as the parallel AstraZeneca/SII immunization program.

“On our current age-based trajectory, everyone who is eligible for a vaccine will have access to a vaccine before July 1, 2021. This is encouraging news for all of us.

“Starting on Saturday, March 20, people who are 79 or older can start to book their appointments, with further groups added throughout the week. Check the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) website for further details.

“The delivery of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine, which is being used to strategically target active outbreaks and higher-risk populations and locations, is also ramping up. Starting in early April, many front-line workers will be eligible for this program.

“Until we have the confidence the pandemic is behind us, we all need continue to follow the COVID-19 safety plans, to be vigilant in our precautions and diligent in our efforts to stop the spread.”