British Columbia

B.C. links death of baby to COVID-19, as officials announce 17 deaths over past 3 days

B.C. health officials have confirmed that a baby died of COVID-19 in January, the youngest death from the novel coronavirus to date. Over the last three days, the province has recorded another 2,491 cases of the disease and 17 more deaths.

2,491 new cases recorded over weekend; 484 people now in hospital, including 158 in intensive care

B.C. confirmed on Monday that a baby died of COVID-19 in January while being treated at B.C. Children's Hospital. (hxdbzxy/Shutterstock)

B.C. health officials have confirmed that a baby died of COVID-19 in January, the youngest death from the novel coronavirus to date.

Few details have been released, but Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday said the B.C. coroner had been investigating previous deaths that had not been attributed to the virus and was able to confirm that an infant from the Interior Health region died from COVID-19 while being treated at B.C. Children's Hospital. 

The news comes just one week after B.C. health officials announced the death of a two-year-old from the virus.

Monday's update was the first since Friday. Since then, Henry said, the province has recorded 2,491 new cases of the disease and 17 more deaths. The deaths include two people over the age of 90, seven in their 80s, five in their 70s, two in their 60s and one in their 50s.

Though the daily numbers remain high, there are signs that the third wave of the virus is passing the crest. The seven-day rolling average of new cases has fallen by about 21 per cent since the peak, and active cases are down 19 per cent.

Hospitalization numbers have dipped very slightly since last week. There are now 484 people in hospital because of the novel coronavirus, including 158 who are in intensive care.

However, Henry said the high transmissibility of variants of concern is creating very worrying situations in hospital.

"Before, if someone got sick from contact at work, there might be one or two more family members who got it, but now we are seeing everyone get it. They have whole families who are admitted to the hospital," she said.

Active cases of COVID-19 across the province now number 8,199.

To date, 1,571 people have died of the disease in B.C. out of 126,249 confirmed cases.

A total of 1,635,372 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province, including 89,500 second doses.

There has been one new outbreak in long-term care at Orchard Haven in Keremeos. There are eight active outbreaks in long-term care or assisted living and seven in hospitals.

While dozens of workplaces have been ordered to close over the last week in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions because of transmission of COVID-19 between workers, Henry did not directly answer a reporter's question about whether the province needs to pass legislation ensuring paid sick leave.

"It is important ... to make sure workers can stay home when they're sick," she said. "That's an ongoing discussion that I know government is having with industry."

Health Minister Adrian Dix said Premier John Horgan is still lobbying for the federal government to take responsibility for mandatory paid sick leave.

Locals only please

This past weekend was the first that British Columbians were under strict restrictions to halt travel between health regions.

The order is in effect until Tuesday, May 25 — the end of the May long weekend — and could result in a fine of $575 if contravened.

The three regional zones 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).

Vaccinating continues

British Columbians aged 60 and older who have registered to be vaccinated have begun receiving invitations from the province to book their shots, while everyone 18 and older can now register for their vaccination.

The province is also continuing to vaccinate people between the ages of 40 and 65 with the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in local pharmacies throughout the province and at some special clinics.

Henry said Monday that the AstraZeneca vaccine is being offered to people in this age group because of a recent spike in hospitalizations for patients between the ages of 40 and 59.

B.C. is expecting the first shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week. Henry said it's not clear yet how many doses are on their way, but public health is developing a plan for who should receive this vaccine, which only requires one dose.

A total of 300,000 doses are expected to arrive in Canada later this week. If those doses are distributed based on population, B.C. could expect to receive about 40,000 doses. In comparison, 274,950 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are expected next week.

There are three ways to register for vaccinations:

  • Online through the "Get Vaccinated" portal.
  • By phone through the provincial phone line at 1-833-838-2323.
  • In person at any Service B.C. location.

Registering for a vaccine is not the same as booking the appointment to get your shot.

Once registered, users receive a confirmation code and wait for an email, text or call telling them they are eligible and can then book their vaccine appointment using that code. 

With files from Christina Jung and Justin McElroy

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