British Columbia health officials have reported 559 new cases – including 39 in Island Health – and one death from COVID-19 on Tuesday.
The number of confirmed cases in B.C. climbs to 77,822 while the province’s death toll now stands at 1,336.
Of the new cases, 132 were recorded in Vancouver Coastal Health, 278 were in Fraser Health, 39 in Island Health, 43 in Interior Health, and 66 in Northern Health and one person who normally resides outside of Canada.
There are currently active 4,677 cases in the province, 238 people in hospital — 69 of whom are in intensive care — and 7,881 people under active public health monitoring due to possible exposure to an identified case.
A total of 71,753 people in B.C. have recovered from COVID-19. There have been 287,950 doses have been administered province-wide, with 58,896 people receiving second doses.
During Tuesday’s update, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, praised the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. She said there are no new cases and no new deaths in long-term or assisted living facilities across British Columbia in the past 24 hours.
“This really is a reflection of the vaccines that we have had and their use and deployment in long-term care and assisted living across this province,” she said. “It is really is remarkable.”
Henry said a single vaccine dose has had an 80 per cent effectiveness rate in healthcare workers and long-term care residents, which she called a huge success.
“This is a success that we need to appreciate and celebrate even as we are preparing to be able to provide more vaccine to more people in our communities,” she said.
COVID outbreak at Cowichan Tribes ‘frustrating’ for Henry
During Tuesday’s update, B.C.’s top doctor touched on the ongoing outbreak at Cowichan Tribes, which has claimed the lives of four people so far.
Cowichan Tribes were expected to provide another 661 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week but received word over the weekend vaccinations would not be taking place for an additional two weeks.
Henry called the ongoing outbreak at Cowichan Tribes “frustrating” and tragic for the entire community.
“This is a very frustrating and ongoing outbreak that has been happening in this community and it has been tragic, particularly in young people,” she said.
Henry said provincial health officials are working closely with Cowichan Tribes, First Nations Health Authority, and Island Health around vaccinations and managing the crisis.
“So we have been working very closely with them around where immunization is best delivered, to whom, and how do we manage this the crisis that it is and there have been many things going to support the Cowichan community and we will continue to do that,” she said.
There are 260 active cases on Vancouver Island, according to the latest information on the BCCDC’s website.
Sixteen people are in hospital due to COVID-19, six of whom are in critical care.
Meanwhile, 900 COVID-19 tests were performed in the region in the past 24 hours.
Since the pandemic began, there have been 2,206 cases and 24 deaths recorded in Vancouver Island
Although BCCDC’s dashboard shows 260 active cases, Island Health’s dashboard shows 232 active cases.
Island Health states that the difference in the two numbers is due to the “timing of reporting across laboratory and public health data sources.”
According to Island Health’s dashboard, there are 40 active cases in south Island, 140 in central Island, and 52 in north Island.
More healthcare professions will be able to administer vaccine
B.C.’s top doctor, during her update on Tuesday, also announced that she has issued a public health order that enables dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians, paramedics, retired nurses, and other health professions to administer COVID-19 vaccines at immunization clinics.
“We are very excited to have the workforce that we are going to need over the six months to ensure we can get vaccine into as many people as wanted in this province as efficiently as possible,” said Henry.
Vaccines for the general population are expected to be available through vaccination clinics starting in April.
“Nobody will be left behind,” said the province’s top doctor.
However, for now, Henry said the health officials are now turning their focus to seniors over the age of 80 and elders across the province.
“We are now turning our focus to people over age 80 in our communities around the province. These seniors and elders will receive vaccine information in the next two weeks, so please be patient,” she said.
British Columbia is holding ‘steady’ this month
There has been an uptick in daily new infections over the past couple of days, province-wide, but also on Vancouver Island.
Just last week, the northern Vancouver Island had dipped to single-digit active case numbers, but, as of Monday, that number has risen to 42.
Dr. Henry said the uptick in new cases is being managed by public health “aggressively” in an effort to better understand the current situation.
“We are holding steady in this past month. This uptick in the last few days is one that we are managing as aggressively as we can to understand better where we are,” said Henry. “This is in contrast . . . to the positive news we have about how effective these vaccines, that we have, are working in our long-term care homes and our healthcare system.”
Henry urged British Columbians to continue to do wash their hands, stay home if they are sick and wear masks while indoors in public spaces. She also encouraged people to remain positive and optimistic, while acknowledging the tough realities of the pandemic.
“We can and will do it. We are in a period of what I call vaccine hope and pandemic reality,” she said. “Our focus has to be to hold steady, to support each other to get through this part of our marathon, our storm, even as it becomes more and more challenging.”
“No matter what we are doing, we can get through this by being kind to each other, remaining calm and keeping safe,” she added.
There have been 852,269 cases recorded in Canada since the pandemic began, data available on Health Canada’s website shows.
Of the more than 850,000 cases reported nationwide, slightly more than 20,000 have been on First Nations reserves, according to Health Canada.
Meanwhile, Ontario has recorded the most infections with 295,119 confirmed cases while Quebec has recorded the most deaths at 10,330.
When it comes to testing, British Columbia has the seventh-highest rate of testing of any province or territory in Canada with a rate of 364,625 per million people.
The number of new COVID-19 cases identified around the world has been on the decline since the first week of January.
According to the World Health Organization, there were 2.48 million new cases recorded the week of Feb. 15, the lowest one-week total since the week of Oct. 5, 2020.
There have been over 111,000,000 cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide since the pandemic began.