B.C. records 556 new cases of COVID-19 but no additional deaths
There are 280 people in hospital with the disease, 84 of whom are in intensive care
B.C. health officials announced 556 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. There have been no new deaths in the last 24 hours.
In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 280 people, 84 of whom are in intensive care.
A total of 1,407 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
There are currently 4,999 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with public health monitoring 9,511 people across B.C. who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. More than 82,436 people who tested positive have recovered.
There have been 116 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are linked to variants of concern identified in B.C. in the last day, for a total of 996 cases. Of the total cases, 130 are active and the remaining people have recovered.
There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks. Health officials have declared the outbreak at Acropolis Manor over.
Seniors 83 and older eligible for vaccine bookings
So far, 424,517 people have received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 87,070 of those being second doses.
"Every person who receives a vaccine makes all of us safer, which is why teams are working hard to ensure every drop of available vaccine supply gets into arms as soon as possible," said Dix and Henry in the written statement.
"Already, we have been able to accelerate availability for older citizens and we hope to be able to continue to push forward at this pace."
The province has accelerated its vaccination timeline, as vaccination bookings for people age 84 and up started Monday, with people 80 and older able to book their vaccinations on Friday ahead of schedule. At noon Tuesday, those 83 and older became eligible to book vaccine appointments.
The vaccine rollout in northern B.C. is following a more condensed scheduled and began booking appointments for those 80 years and above on Monday.
State of emergency extended
The province announced that British Columbia's state of emergency has again been extended, for the 26th time, until the end of day on March 30, 2021.
The announcement marks one year since Henry declared a public health emergency in response to COVID-19. The province officially went into a state of emergency on March 18, 2020.
"British Columbians have been living with the challenges of COVID-19 for more than a year, and while our lives have changed, our resolve has not," said Premier John Horgan in the written statement. "This is a sobering occasion, but with vaccinations ongoing in B.C., it's also one for hope and optimism."
Caution on St. Patrick's Day
They also reminded those who celebrate St. Patrick's Day on Wednesday to respect public health guidelines. Last week, Henry announced that last call at restaurants, pubs and liquor stores will be at 8 p.m. on March 17.
On Monday, Henry announced she expects to release guidelines sometime this week that will allow for a gradual reopening of religious services, starting with outdoor gatherings.
She says guidelines for small outdoor services will be issued in the coming days, with the goal of introducing in-person gatherings in time for Passover and Easter, important faith celebrations coming up in the next few weeks.