‘Our third wave’: B.C. reports 3,289 new COVID-19 cases, 18 deaths over the weekend

'Our third wave': B.C. reports 3,289 new COVID-19 cases, 18 deaths over the weekend
Nicholas Pescod/CHEK News
Watch As the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU hits a record high, B.C.'s health minister says some surgeries have had to be cancelled. April Lawrence reports.
British Columbia health officials have reported 3,289 new cases and 18 deaths from COVID-19 since their last update on Friday.

British Columbia health officials have reported 3,289 new cases and 18 deaths from COVID-19 since their last update on Friday.

The number of confirmed cases in B.C. climbs to 112,289 while the province’s death toll now stands at 1,513.

Of the new cases, 340 were recorded in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,957 were in Fraser Health, 167 in Island Health, 299 in Interior Health, and 125 in Northern Health.

There are currently 9,937 active cases in the province, 368 people in hospital — 121 of whom are in intensive care — and 15,900 people under active public health monitoring due to possible exposure to an identified case.

A total of 101,216 people in B.C. have recovered from COVID-19 while 1,112,101 doses of vaccine have been administered province-wide.

No new variant data was available due to a data issue on Monday, but Dr. Bonnie Henry said around 50 per cent of cases across the province had one of the variants of concern, primarily the B.1.1.7 or U.K. variant.

Monday’s numbers were announced by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix during a media briefing.

Island Health

According to the latest information available on the BCCDC’s dashboard, there are currently 566 active coronavirus cases on Vancouver Island — a decrease of three cases since the last update on April 9.

Eighteen people are currently hospitalized due to the coronavirus — five of whom are in critical care. Although hospitalizations decreased by one individual over the weekend, the number of people in ICU climbed by one.

Of the 167 new cases on Vancouver Island, 77 cases were identified in people 29 years of age or younger, with the majority of new cases (43) identified in those 20-29.

Two additional deaths were recorded on the Island since April 9, bringing the region’s death toll to 33.

Meanwhile, Island Health reported 494 active cases on Vancouver Island in its latest dashboard update.

Of those active cases, 275 are in the South Island, 191 are in Central Island, and 28 are in the North Island.

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.”

Since the pandemic began, a total of 4,039  cases have been identified on Vancouver Island and 3,430 people have recovered.

The ‘third wave’ is here, says B.C.’s top doctor

During Monday’s press conference, Henry seemed to address calls from some groups, like the BC Green Party, for tougher restrictions to curb rising COVID-19 rates.

“This is, I don’t need to say, our third wave, and knowing this, we need to chart our best path forward to manage this wave in British Columbia,” Henry said. “We have recognized from the very beginning that the impacts of shutdowns and the measures that we take in public health don’t affect people equally.”

She said the province’s focus has been on keeping hospitalization and ICU rates low while balancing British Columbians’ mental and physical needs.

“For us, that has meant taking only as much restriction as we need to suppress the virus and ensure that our health care system is functioning and that people are protected as best we can,” she said. “That has meant we’ve been able to safely keep most businesses open across the province, but as this surge has increased, we’ve had to take additional actions to address those places that are highest-risk, and that is those highest-risk places that are indoor settings.”

She said the province needs to focus on actions that will have the “biggest impact” at slowing the spread of the virus.

“But it’s up to each one of us to do our part as well, it is our collective efforts that have made the difference so far and will continue to make the difference.”

Henry also reiterated the province’s advice to stay home, or as close to home as possible.

“If you live in the Lower Mainland, you should not be travelling to the Island,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dix addressed the rising number of people hospitalized and in ICUs due to COVID-19.

“Three-hundred sixty-eight people in hospital today, that’s not a record but it is getting close to a record in B.C.,” he said.

“The recent growth in cases is having a real impact on health care workers and for the first time beginning to impact our effort to ensure individuals receive needed scheduled surgeries since we relaunched the surgical renewal plan in May.”

Vaccination bookings open up to more British Columbians

Henry also reminded people between the ages of 55 and 65 that they can call or go online to book at participating pharmacies to receive their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

She addressed people who may be hesitant to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine because of rare reports of blood clots in Europe in those under age 55. Canadian health officials have recommended jurisdictions pause the use of the vaccine in those under 55 until more information can be learned.

“While the AstraZeneca vaccine is on pause under 55, it is a safe and effective vaccine used in millions of people around the world, and if you are older than 55 I strongly encourage you to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Henry also reiterated that people 40 and over can begin to register to book their vaccine appointments this week and next.

She was asked whether B.C. might follow in Ontario’s footsteps in regards to suspending in-person learning at all schools indefinitely.

Henry said there is no such plan to do the same thing in this province.

“When we have seen increased transmission in community, it’s when children were not in school, and the structured time and the important structure school gives to families and communities is really important and is a less risky environment,” she said.

Prior to the news conference, rumours swirled online claiming that B.C. would impose further restrictions on businesses as coronavirus infections continue to climb, particularly variant cases.

However, Dix addressed the rumours during a media availability on Saturday, saying British Columbians should not expect to hear news of additional restrictions, particularly on businesses.

“No,” he said, in response to a question regarding the rumoured lockdowns.

On Friday, in a written update, health officials reported 1,262 new cases of COVID-19 for the entire province with two additional deaths, one day after setting an all-time daily case record with 1,293.

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