British Columbia·Video

B.C. announces record-breaking 1,293 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

B.C. has recorded 1,293 new COVID-19 cases, breaking a previously held single-day record. Two additional people have died in the province.

People 65 and older can now register for their vaccine appointment

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Thursday that the province will no longer be sequencing all positive COVID-19 cases to determine whether they are variants of concern. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

B.C. has recorded 1,293 new COVID-19 cases, breaking a previously held single-day record.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced on Thursday that the province will no longer be sequencing all positive COVID-19 cases to determine whether they are variants of concern, and instead will be assuming that all positive cases are a highly infectious variant.

Henry said existing health measures remain the same regardless of what strain someone is infected with — but emphasized the need for everyone in B.C. to follow current restrictions on gatherings.

"It is not OK to have friends and family over right now. It is not OK to go on a weekend getaway. That is not essential — nor is your ski trip just because you have a pass. It is not OK to have a wedding, a birthday. All of these need to be postponed for now," she said.

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The provincial health officer pleaded with British Columbians to put gatherings and vacation plans on hold as the province announced a record-breaking 1,293 cases.

Henry also announced a new workplace closure order that will allow WorkSafeBC to operate under the Public Health Act. When three or more employees at a workplace test positive for COVID-19, it will be closed down for 10 days. Essential workplaces like police departments, fire stations and grocery stores are exempt. Schools are also exempt from the new regulations.

Two additional people have died in the province, for a total of 1,493 COVID-related deaths in B.C. There are currently 336 people in hospital, with 101 in critical care.

"What we have seen is a noticeable increase in transmission in B.C. — and I don't need to tell you that," she said, adding the spread is fuelled by social gatherings that then spread into workplaces.

"It's not one or two people getting sick; the transmissibility is spreading so quickly. It's everyone in a household."

Province provides data on variants

Henry previously said that the B117 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, appears to have the "competitive advantage" in this province.

There have also been growing numbers of cases involving the P1 variant first identified in Brazil, including clusters in Whistler and the Lower Mainland. People aged 20 to 39 are currently over-represented among those with P1 cases.

Last week, 410 people in the Howe Sound local health region, which includes Whistler, tested positive for COVID-19 — exactly one per cent of that region's population.

But Henry said so far there has not been a dramatic increase in hospitalizations by age or by variants. She said a high test positive rate for those aged 10 to 14 is connected to travel over March break, and anyone who travelled or had social interactions in that period should self monitor and not attend work or school if they are sick.

Vaccinations continue

So far, 985,001 doses of vaccine have been administered in B.C., with 87,564 of those being second shots.

B.C.'s online registration system for COVID-19 vaccine appointments opened to eligible adults on Tuesday morning, as the province overhauls its current program for making bookings.

The new "Get Vaccinated" system was made available at 8 a.m. PT. on April 6.

People 65 and older and Indigenous people over 18 can now register and book their vaccine appointment online, by phone, or in person.

British Columbians who have received a letter of eligibility and are clinically extremely vulnerable are now also able to register online to book their appointment.

As of Wednesday, almost 20 per cent of those who are eligible for a vaccine in B.C. had received their shot, and 80 per cent of those above the age of 80 have been vaccinated.