B.C. mask mandate for kids 5 and up takes effect today, vaccinations coming soon

Government of B.C.

British Columbia’s top doctor has issued an order requiring children five and older to wear masks in public spaces, expanding a mandate for those aged 12 and up.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says the province is also preparing to vaccinate about 340,000 kids up to age 11 pending Health Canada approval as early as next month, with priority given to those in the northern region, where COVID-19 transmission rates are highest due to lower vaccine uptake.

Henry says the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the north is causing serious illness, including among younger residents, as hospitals are “pushed to the limit.”

She says public health officials are working with the Northern Health authority to determine if more regional measures are needed to prevent transmission.

READ MORE: B.C. to change public indoor mask mandate to ages 5 and up

Health Minister Adrian Dix says 55 critically ill people have been transferred from the region to intensive care units elsewhere in the province and that 43 of them were infected with COVID-19, with all but one of them not being fully vaccinated.

He says 14 patients were flown hundreds of kilometres away over the long weekend so anyone who isn’t vaccinated shouldn’t wait to get protected to prevent a similar fate.

Dix previously noted that transfers have had an impact on surgeries across the province.

“It has an impact on surgeries, of course, everywhere, including on Vancouver Island,” he said last week.

From Sept. 26 to Oct. 2, 241 non-urgent surgeries were postponed across B.C. and 157 of those were in Island Health.

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