British Columbia health officials have reported 840 new cases and no new deaths from COVID-19 since their last update on Monday.
The number of confirmed cases in B.C. climbs to 99,035 while the province’s death toll stands at 1,455.
Of the new cases, 265 were recorded in Vancouver Coastal Health, 421 were in Fraser Health, 39 in Island Health, 67 in Interior Health, and 46 in Northern Health.
According to Island Health data, there are currently 339 active cases on Vancouver Island and of those cases, 170 are in the South Island, 144 are in Central Island, and 25 are in the North Island.
The BC Centre for Disease Control reports 389 active cases in the Island Health region. Island Health’s data often lags behind the BCCDC’s data due to a “difference in timing of reporting across laboratory and public health data sources.”
There are currently 7,062 active cases in the province, 312 people in hospital — 78 of whom are in intensive care — and 11,164 people under active public health monitoring due to possible exposure to an identified case.
A total of 90,401 people in B.C. have recovered from COVID-19 while 724,193 doses of vaccine have been administered province-wide.
As for variants of concern, there are 320 new confirmed cases — driving the province’s total to 2,553 cases. Of those, the majority (2,134) are linked to the B.1.1.7 or UK variant, 49 are linked to the B.1.351 or South Africa variant and 370 are linked to the P.1 or Brazil variant.
Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Richard Stanwick told CHEK News that with variant cases on the rise, things could get much worse in the coming weeks.
“We could be looking at doubling or tripling of the numbers of variants within the next couple of weeks,” Stanwick said. “But we have to wait for BCCDC to confirm it. But our anxiety is placed on the fact that people have traveled to areas, or people have stayed with them that have come from areas where the variant is much more common.”
On Monday, the province announced new “circuit-breaker” restrictions for three weeks in response to rising coronavirus case counts.
Effective after midnight Tuesday, the new restrictions state indoor dining, indoor group fitness and indoor worship services are prohibited until April 19.
Non-essential travel is also being discouraged and the province also widened mandatory mask rules for schools, with Grade 4 students and up now required to wear masks.
“We have seen the start of exponential growth of COVID-19 cases. To stop this upward trend from continuing, we are taking the necessary steps to protect our communities and get back on the path we want and need to be on,” Chief Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement Tuesday.
“We are asking people for your help – particularly over the next three weeks – to push our curve back down again. This means staying small, staying outside and staying with our same group of close contacts.”
Over the weekend, the province recorded 2,518 new cases of COVID-19 — a span which included a new single-day case count record, set Friday to Saturday at 936 cases.
The province also announced Monday that it had temporarily paused use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in those 55 and under for “a few days” following rare reports of blood clotting in European patients.
Those who are under 55 and have received the vaccine and have questions about the rare issue are encouraged to visit the BC Centre for Disease Control website.
Meanwhile, age-based vaccine appointments are currently open for those 73 or older in all health authorities as well as Indigenous people over 73.
Extremely clinically vulnerable people have also been contacted by their region’s health authority to book their appointments.
In Island Health, the number to call to book an appointment is 1-833-348-4787, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily.