737 new COVID-19 cases and 2 more deaths in B.C.

PROVINCIAL Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix on Friday announced 737 new COVID-19 cases. The total number of cases now stands at 90,786 in British Columbia.

There have been two new COVID-19-related deaths, and the number of deaths in the province now total 1,421 in the province.

To date, 490,022 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-SII COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C., 87,139 of which are second doses. Today, vaccine appointment bookings are open for people over 80. Starting tomorrow, people 79 and older and Indigenous peoples over 55 will also be able to book an appointment.

There are 5,207 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 9,412 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases. A further 84,078 people who tested positive have recovered.

Of the active cases, 292 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 85 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.

There have been 163 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 426 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 32 in the Island Health region, 33 in the Interior Health region, 82 in the Northern Health region and one new case of a person who resides outside of Canada.

There have been 68 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in the province, for a total of 1,200 cases. Of the total cases, 149 are active and the remaining people have recovered. This includes 1,094 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, 41 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 65 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.

There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks and the outbreak at Holmberg House Hospice is now over.

Henry and Dix added: “The availability of the AstraZeneca/SII COVID-19 vaccine has allowed us to create a parallel vaccine program to our age-based provincewide immunization program.

“It is separate supply that supplements and adds onto the age-based vaccines, allowing us to strategically target active outbreaks and higher-risk populations and locations.

“With our AstraZeneca/SII supply for the coming weeks confirmed, we are able to start immunizing our front-line workers. As more vaccine becomes available, we will be able to expand to even more people on our front lines.

“For those who have been at work throughout the pandemic, supporting so many others, please know your efforts are recognized and valued. Everyone is important and everyone will have their turn.

“The selection of the front-line workers for part two of this program is based on the known risk of transmission, as well as the nature and size of the workplace environment.

“We remind all businesses and workers that the requirement to continue to follow COVID-19 safety plans remains in place – even if workers have been vaccinated.

“We also remind workers that health authorities will contact employers directly to arrange immunizations, and calling the age-based booking line will not provide access to the parallel AstraZeneca/SII vaccine program.

“We are working with all of the supply we have available to maximize our protection and we are using every last drop. We also must focus on the individual actions that we need now more than ever to keep each other and our families and communities safe.”