What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. for April 6
Health officials set to speak live at 3 p.m. PT on Tuesday afternoon
- Health officials will provide first live update in five days at 3 p.m. PT.
- The new online vaccine registration portal and provincial phone line are now open for eligible adults.
- As of Monday, 1,486 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C. out of 104,061 confirmed cases.
- There are now 318 people in hospital with the disease, including 96 in intensive care.
- The number of active cases has risen to 8,490.
- B.C. has now confirmed 3,559 cases of variants of concern, including 588 that are active.
- A total of 893,590 doses of vaccine have been administered, including 87,472 second doses.
- The province is now moving into Phase 3 of its vaccine rollout plan.
- Back-to-back case numbers on Friday and Saturday broke single-day infection records, with 1,074 and 1,077 new cases, respectively.
The long weekend saw yet another surge in B.C.'s COVID-19 caseload as the more contagious variants of concern continue to spread widely.
The single-day record for new cases was broken on Friday and then again on Saturday, with 1,074 and 1,077 new cases, respectively, according to revised figures released on Monday.
At the same time, the number of patients in intensive care has risen to 96, the highest level so far in the pandemic, out of a total of 318 patients in hospital. There are now 8,490 active cases of the novel coronavirus across B.C.
Variants of concern
Confirmed cases of variants of concern have risen to 3,559, with 588 that are active.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday there is a "significant'' amount of the P1 variant in the province and he expects the variants of concern to eventually replace less transmissive COVID-19 strains.
"What we know is the most transmissive varieties, the variants of COVID-19, are ultimately going to take over,'' he said. "We've seen that in other jurisdictions and we expect to see that here.''
Of the 318 people in hospital, 60 are linked to variants of concern, Dix said.
Dix said the province is not seeing an increase in hospitalizations of young people, but rather that among those who are hospitalized, more are needing critical care. He also said while the average ages of patients are lower than they were before B.C.'s oldest residents got vaccinated, those numbers are relative.
Horacio Bach, an adjunct professor with the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of British Columbia, said Tuesday the variant is said to be three times more contagious than the original strain of novel coronavirus, and there have been documented cases of reinfection.
Bach said the more transmissible variants can spread more easily outdoors, too.
"If you're in front of someone, even by two metres, if the wind is coming to you, the person may release the virus and you may get that," he told CBC's The Early Edition.
"Even if you are outdoors, you have to be very careful."
Meanwhile, 893,590 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have now been administered in B.C., including 87,472 second doses.
The province launched its new system for vaccine registration early Tuesday. Those eligible for their shot are now able to register through a new online portal, provincewide toll-free phone line or in person at any Service B.C. location.
Dix said 93,031 people had registered as of 11 a.m. PT, with 88 per cent of registrations completed online.
From those registrations, 14,752 people made appointments for their shot.
The new system replaces the five regional call centres that have been used for vaccine registration thus far. The changes also mean B.C. is moving into Phase 3 of its four-phase vaccination plan, which focuses on people aged 60 to 79 as well as Indigenous people who are 18 and over.
Getting the jab
People aged 71 and older — i.e., those born in 1950 or earlier — are now able to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.
Those living on the Sunshine Coast or in Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton and Bowen Island are able to book if they are aged 70 and up, or born in 1951 or earlier.
Indigenous people aged 18 and older are also eligible to book, as are people deemed clinically extremely vulnerable.
As of 8 a.m. PT on Tuesday, there are three ways to register:
- 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.
School mask mandate
Tuesday is the first day of school after the Easter long weekend. Under B.C.'s new guidelines announced last week, all students in grades 4-12 are required to wear a mask indoors, including while they're at their desks or on a school bus.
B.C. Teachers' Federation president Teri Mooring says her organization would strongly encourage students in grades K-3 to wear a mask at school as well. Mooring says she also recommends schools consider a hybrid learning model amid the surge of COVID-19 cases.
"There needs to be consideration around a hybrid model, which means that classroom density is reduced in most cases to 15 and other students are learning online and then they're rotated," she said Tuesday to Carolina de Ryk, the host of CBC's Daybreak North. "That is a good system."
Tap the link below to hear Teri Mooring's interview on Daybreak North:
- Two Vancouver restaurants that opened in defiance of COVID-19 health orders have had their business licences suspended and have been ordered closed until April 20 by the city.
- B.C.'s public safety minister says businesses that continue to keep their indoor dining spaces open in defiance of COVID-19 rules will face consequences as the province works to bring surging infections under control.
- Just weeks after a deadly COVID-19 outbreak ended at a care home on British Columbia's North Coast, health officials have reported a new outbreak at the same facility.
- B.C.'s health minister defended measures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, even as his province set one-day case counts records on Friday and Saturday.
What's happening elsewhere in Canada
As of Monday, Canada had reported 1,014,373 cases of COVID-19, with 58,673 cases considered active.
A total of 23,118 people have died of the disease.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath.
- Loss of taste or smell.
But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911.
What can I do to protect myself?
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean.
- Keep at least two metres away from people outside your bubble. Keep your distance from people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.
- Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.
More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
With files from Daybreak North and The Early Edition