British Columbia’s provincial health officer says COVID-19 measures will eventually be loosened across the province at the same time despite lower transmission rates in some regions, but case numbers and hospitalizations are still too high to consider changes.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday that two previous attempts last year to lift restrictions regionally did not work because people travelling from one area to another brought the illness along or took it back home with them.
She said Nova Scotia is an example of how a low number of cases can quickly climb, so everyone in B.C. will need to follow the same rules as rising vaccination levels and fewer hospitalizations allow indoor dining to resume, for example.
“We know how important that is for restaurants, but it’s also an important safe place when rates are low in our community and when people are protected through immunization,” Henry said.
People who have received two doses of a vaccine can’t yet return to post-pandemic activities with each other, she said, because vaccines do not provide 100 per cent protection and those who have been immunized can get infected again because too much of the virus is still being transmitted.
“Right now we’re not at a place where any of us can let our guard down, but we will get there and we will be there in a matter of weeks now, not months anymore.”
Henry urged everyone who is eligible to book an appointment to get vaccinated and said that compared with teachers, fewer child-care workers have chosen to get immunized.
The province reported 1,759 cases of COVID-19 over three days on Monday, along with 20 deaths, most of them among people over the age of 70.
People who are aged 40 and up could register for the province’s age-based vaccination plan as of Monday, along with those who are 18 and over and living in high-risk areas.
Henry said a vaccination plan for children between the ages of 12 and 17 will be released in the coming days and anyone who received their first dose before the provincial registration system was set up should book their second dose online.
An interactive app providing information on case numbers and vaccination rates in particular neighbourhoods and by age and sex will also be available soon, she said.