British Columbia

14 more people die of COVID-19 in B.C. as province announces 1,360 new cases over 3 days

Health officials in B.C. announced 1,360 new cases of COVID-19 over the three days since Friday, as well as 14 more deaths.

350 people in hospital, 132 in intensive care

The Pfizer vaccine is administered at Bear Creek Park in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Health officials in B.C. announced 1,360 new cases of COVID-19 over the three days since Friday, as well as 14 more deaths.

That brings the province's COVID-19 death toll to 1,648. The majority of the new deaths, 12 in total, were among people aged 60 and older, but a person in their 50s and another in their 40s also died.

The number of deaths over the weekend is a reflection of case counts from a month ago. However, the average new cases over the weekend was 453, and that number continues to fall. 

The number of people being treated in hospital has dropped to 350 — the lowest it's been since April 10 — as has the number of those in intensive care units which now stands at 132 patients.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that 2,408,305 British Columbians have received a first dose of the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine, meaning nearly 47 per cent of the province's total population has been immunized. 

Watch: B.C.'s provincial health officer says current restrictions will remain in place over the May long weekend.

B.C. needs to 'hold the line' against COVID-19 this long weekend: Dr. Bonnie Henry

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B.C.'s provincial health officer says to not expect any loosening of public health restrictions ahead of the May long weekend. 1:40

Of those eligible adults 18 and older, 55 per cent have now received a first dose, and approximately three per cent of eligible adults have received a second dose.

Epidemiologists have said that at least 60 to 70 per cent of the total population must be immunized in order to achieve herd immunity.

Monday, Henry said timelines for second doses are likely to be moved up from the planned four-month interval between shots due to the additional supply of vaccines. An average of 48,355 people were given a vaccine shot in B.C. over the last three days — a 24 per cent increase over the previous weekend and a sign that the immunization campaign continues to accelerate

British Columbians will begin receiving booking notices approximately 13 weeks after their first dose to ensure that they receive their second shot before the 16-week interval.

"It is likely for everybody that we are going to be able to move up that dose two," she said. "Having said that, there is good evidence that waiting that extra period actually gives you a better immune response, even in older people."

Henry says the province has used up its supply of AstraZeneca vaccine set to expire in May and approximately 20,000 remaining doses won't expire until the end of June.

"For all those who received their first dose, you will have the option of receiving your second dose of AstraZeneca," she said.

She also noted that in the next few weeks the province will provide more information to people to help them make a choice about which vaccine they want to receive as a second dose.

Officials have said B.C. is on pace to have each eligible adult receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Canada Day. Currently, anyone 18 and older in British Columbia can register for vaccination.

This can be done online through the "Get Vaccinated" portal, by calling 1-833-838-2323, or in person at any Service B.C. location.

Restrictions on gatherings, indoor dining and travel will remain in place until May 25. Henry has said that small gatherings should be possible by the Canada Day long weekend.

Travelling outside of three regional zones without an essential reason remains prohibited until then. Violators can be fined up to $575.

The three zones based roughly on health region boundaries are:

  • The Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health areas)
  • Vancouver Island (Island Health)
  • Northern and Interior regions (Northern health and Interior Health)

B.C. residents cannot book accommodations or camping sites outside their zone and BC Ferries staff are contacting travellers to confirm the reasons for their travel. RCMP have also set up checkpoints to enforce the non-essential travel ban.

With files from Bridgette Watson

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