British Columbia

Avoid indoor gatherings and travel, health officer urges, as B.C. records 1,262 new cases of COVID-19

B.C. health officials announced 1,262 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths on Friday.

There are currently 9,574 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C.

Diners on a patio at the Beach House restaurant in West Vancouver this week. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

B.C. health officials announced 1,262 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths on Friday.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix, B.C.'s health minister, said there are currently 9,574 active cases of people infected with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A total of 332 people are in hospital, with 102 in intensive care. Hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are up from last Thursday, when 296 were in hospital, 79 of whom were in intensive care.

Over the last seven weeks in B.C., hospitalizations have risen by 53 per cent, while active ICU cases are up 63 per cent. In the last 12 days, 195 of the 366 new hospitalizations across B.C. have been in the Fraser Health authority.

The provincial death toll from the disease is 1,495.

Public health is actively monitoring 15,673 people across the province who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. The outbreak at Eagle Ridge Hospital is now over

New cases in Western Hockey League

On Friday the Western Hockey League said there are two new COVID-19 cases associated with the league, one with the Kelowna Rockets, and one with the Vancouver Giants.

This Kelowna Rockets player was deemed to have been a close contact with seven cases of COVID-19 that were announced on March 31. The player remains in isolation at this time.

The Vancouver Giants player tested positive while undergoing a mandated quarantine prior to joining the team cohort and had not had any contact with other team members.

1 million vaccine doses administered

So far, 1,025,019 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 87,606 of those being second doses. A record high of 40,018 people were vaccinated in B.C. on Thursday.

"This is a significant milestone for all of us, and we will continue to work to get vaccines into arms as soon as we can," read the statement from the province.

People go about their business in downtown Vancouver. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

There are currently 4,111 cases of COVID-19 that are confirmed variants of concern in B.C. Of the total cases, 105 are active and the remaining people have recovered. This includes 3,082 cases of the B117 variant first detected in the U.K., 974 cases of the P1 variant (Brazil) and 55 cases of the B1351 variant (South Africa).

In Friday's statement, Henry urged British Columbians to stick with provincial health orders to give vaccinations a chance to do their work.

"Avoid indoor gatherings outside of your household and avoid travel. Get tested if you have even mild symptoms and use all of your layers of protection. This is how we will slow the spread and get ahead of the virus strains that are in our communities right now, she said.

"Bending the rules only delays our ability to put the pandemic behind us, so let's ensure we are not looking for exceptions to the orders we have in place, but rather looking to how we can help each other to stay small, stay local and stay strong in the face of COVID-19."

As cases rise, particularly those involving variants of concern, B.C.'s vaccination strategy is under scrutiny.

Registration for the province's vaccination program is currently open to people over 65 and Indigenous persons over 18.

But some experts have suggested switching from an aged-based vaccination model to one where younger people — particularly essential workers — are prioritized.

 

"I think we've put our eggs in the vaccination basket, but vaccinations won't be fast enough to prevent the variant wave that we're in right now from being a huge challenge," said Prof. Caroline Colijn, the Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Evolution, Infection and Public Health at Simon Fraser University. 

Others say Canada is doing better than average with vaccination — given vaccination supply issues, with no domestic manufacturing capacity. 

With files from On The Coast and Justin McElroy

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