COVID curve continues to bend ahead of long weekend as B.C. announces 411 new cases

B.C. health officials announced 411 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths on Tuesday.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are currently 4,890 active cases of people infected with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A total of 360 people are in hospital, with 127 in intensive care.

Tuesday’s new case numbers have brought the province’s seven-day average below 500 daily cases for the first time since Feb. 25.

Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are down by 15 per cent from last Tuesday, when 426 people were in hospital with the disease. 

The number of patients in intensive care is down by about 10 per cent from 141 a week ago.

The provincial death toll from the disease is 1,650.

B.C. recorded one new health-care facility outbreak at Cherington Place in the Fraser Health region. 

Only 37 new cases were recorded in the Vancouver Coastal Health region — an unusually large drop from a daily average of just under 100 cases in recent days. 

So far, 2,566,936 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 131,837 of those being second doses.

Vaccine progress

More than 55 per cent of eligible adults in B.C. have now received a first dose of the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines, accounting for just over 47 per cent of the province’s total population.

“The more people who get vaccinated, the safer we all are, which is why we want to break the record books on immunizations in our province,” Henry and Dix said in the written statement. 

“Whether you are in northern B.C., the Okanagan, Vancouver Island or the Tri-Cities, the simple step of getting immunized will allow us to start to slowly ease the restrictions we have in place.”

Epidemiologists have said that at least 60 to 70 per cent of the total population must be immunized in order to achieve herd immunity.

Tuesday, health officials reaffirmed that timelines for second doses are likely to be moved up from the planned four-month interval between shots due to the additional supply of vaccines. 

“With a large, steady vaccine supply and an assurance that most people have their first dose, we will be able to look at how we may be able to accelerate delivery of second doses,” reads the statement which promises more details in early June.

The Pfizer vaccine is administered at a Fraser Health and City of Surrey community clinic in Bear Creek Park in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. Epidemiologists have said that at least 60 to 70 per cent of the total population must be immunized in order to achieve herd immunity. (Maggie MacPherson)

British Columbians will begin receiving booking notices approximately 13 weeks after their first dose to ensure that they receive their second shot before the 16-week interval.

No gatherings, no road-trips

Travelling outside of three regional zones without an essential reason remains prohibited until after the May long weekend and violators can be fined up to $575.

New legislation introduced earlier this month could see people with unpaid fines have their efforts to obtain or renew a driver’s or vehicle licence blocked by ICBC.

The three zones based roughly on health region boundaries 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)

Restrictions on gatherings, indoor dining and travel will remain in place until May 25. Henry has said that small gatherings should be possible after the end of the Canada Day long weekend.

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