No new deaths as B.C. records fewer than 200 new cases of COVID-19 for the first time this year
There are 254 people in hospital with the disease, 80 of whom are in intensive care
B.C. health officials announced 184 new cases of COVID-19 and zero deaths from the disease on Tuesday, marking the first time since Oct. 20 that daily case numbers have dipped below 200.
In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are currently 2,800 active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C. That's the lowest number since Nov. 2.
A total of 254 people are in hospital, including 80 in intensive care.
Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are down by about 16 per cent from last Tuesday, when 301 people were in hospital with the disease.
The number of patients in intensive care is down by about 14 per cent from 93 a week ago.
Meanwhile, B.C. has hit another major milestone in its vaccination program. More than 70 per cent of all adults have now received a shot of vaccine, as have 67 per cent of people over the age of 12.
So far, 3,303,334 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 191,222 second doses. A total of 11,268 second doses went into arms on Monday — a record high for the province.
Henry and Dix said vaccination is the key to getting life back to normal in B.C.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has required us to do things we have perhaps never done before to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. We have learned, adapted and worked hard to keep each other safe," they said.
"The more people who are fully vaccinated, the less risk there is that the virus can spread in our communities, and the more quickly we'll be able to confidently put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us. Let's keep moving forward."
The provincial death toll from the disease is 1,703 lives lost out of 144,473 confirmed cases.
Tuesday's statement follows a news conference Monday during which health officials urged British Columbians to remain vigilant about COVID-19 until more people have received their second dose of vaccine as outbreaks continue to pop up, despite a sharply declining caseload.
Long-term care homes have seen some rapid transmission of the virus because not all residents have received a second shot and neither have visitors, so restrictions cannot be fully lifted in the facilities where people are in close contact, Henry says.
B.C. rolling out 2nd shots
Public health officials have urged anyone who has not yet registered for a vaccine to do so now.
Anyone who received their vaccine before April 15 and was not registered with the province's online vaccine registration system should register now to receive an email or text notification of their second dose appointment.
Children between the ages of 12 and 17, about 310,000 people in B.C., can also register through the online portal. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was recently approved for use in children of that age group.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) updated its guidance to provinces and territories Tuesday to recommend that a first shot of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine can be followed by Moderna or Pfizer.
For Canadians who have had a first dose of Moderna or Pfizer, NACI now recommends they can take either of the two shots as a second dose — because they both use a similar mRNA technology.
Henry and Dix said Tuesday that NACI's advice will inform B.C.'s approach for second doses, and they plan to provide more details later this week.
With files from Justin McElroy and Bridgette Watson