COVID-19 in B.C.: Health Minister on vaccine delays; record high hospitalizations; over 1,000 new cases again; and more

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      For a third consecutive day, B.C.’s new case count has remained above 1,000 cases. In addition, hospitalized cases have continued to climb to record new highs.

      Today, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix issued a statement about the current status of the vaccine rollout (see below).

      In addition, regional health authorities began listing businesses that have been closed due to COVID-19. Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health currently list 37 business that have been closed—for more details, see this article.

      B.C. update: March 16

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dix announced that there are 1,005 new cases in B.C. today. That count includes, by region:

      • 536 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 259 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 110 in Interior Health;
      • 51 in Northern Health;
      • 49 in Island Health;
      • no one from outside of Canada.

      Currently, there are 10,081 active cases, which is 29 more cases than yesterday.

      Of concern is the continually rising hospitalized case count. At the moment, there are 425 individuals in hospitals, which is 23 more patients than yesterday and a new record. Of the total, 127 of those patients are in intensive care units (two more than yesterday).

      The number of people whom public health is monitoring due to exposure to identified cases had a drop of 340 people down to 15,877 people.

      Tragically, there have been six new COVID-19-related deaths. The total fatalities during the pandemic now includes 1,530 people in British Columbia who have died.

      A total of 105,291 people have recovered, which includes 960 recoveries since yesterday.

      During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 117,080 cases.

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
      Province of British Columbia

      Variants and vaccinations

      As of today, there are 5,739 variant cases, and 212 of those cases are currently active.

      The total number includes:

      • 3,858 cases of the B117 (U.K.) variant;
      • 1,810 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant;
      • 71 cases of the B1351 (South Africa) variant.

      In B.C.’s immunization program, 1,282,091 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca-SII vaccines have now been administered, and 87,970 of those are second doses.

      Dix issued a statement today about the current state of the vaccination program.

      “By the time new shipments of Pfizer arrived this week, we had utilized our existing supply,” he stated in a news release. “The same is true for Moderna.”

      He expressed disappointment in the delay of shipments of the Moderna vaccine but said that the federal government will be sending additional doses of Pfizer in May and June.

      "Doses in April would be more helpful, but we appreciate the ongoing effort and commitment of the federal government,” he added.

      Outbreaks and exposures

      The good news is that there haven’t been any new healthcare or community outbreaks declared, and none of the five regional health authorities listed any new public exposure events.

      Island Health provided an update that a new cases has been confirmed during the outbreak at the high-intensity rehab unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital that was declared on April 14. A total of four patients have now tested positive in this outbreak.

      Sobeys added three Safeway stores to its list of locations with staff members who have tested positive:

      • one employee who tested positive last worked on April 11 at 801–1301 Main Street in Penticton;
      • an employee who tested positive at 6153 200th Street in Langley last worked there on April 11;
      • one employee who tested positive last worked on April 12 at 1100–2850 Shaughnessy Street in Port Coquitlam.

      Loblaw also added two Real Canadian Superstore locations to its list of locations where staff have tested positive:

      • an employee who tested positive last worked on April 7 at 2280 Baron Road in Kelowna;
      • two employees who tested positive last worked on April 8 and 12 at 855 Gladwin Road in Abbotsford.

      In addition, Pealow's Your Independent Grocer at 1501 Cook Street in Creston was previously listed as having an employee who tested positive as last working at the location on April 10. The last date of work is now listed as April 13.

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) added the following 19 flights to its lists of public exposures:

      • April 2: Air Canada 127, Toronto to Vancouver;
      • April 4: Air Canada 45, Delhi to Vancouver;
      • April 6: Air Canada 128, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • April 6: Air Canada 314, Vancouver to Montreal;
      • April 7: Air Canada 45, Delhi to Vancouver;
      • April 7: Air Canada 225, Calgary to Vancouver;
      • April 7: Air Canada 302, Vancouver to Montreal;
      • April 7: Air Canada/Jazz 8302, Victoria to Vancouver;
      • April 7: Air Canada/Jazz 8242, Vancouver to Terrace;
      • April 7: Air Canada/Jazz 8622, Vancouver to Winnipeg;
      • April 8: Air Canada 305, Montreal to Vancouver;
      • April 9: WestJet 3172, Comox to Calgary;
      • April 9: Air India 185, Delhi to Vancouver;
      • April 10: American Airlines 2263, Dallas to Vancouver;
      • April 11: Air Canada/Jazz 8239, Terrace to Vancouver;
      • April 11: Air India 185, Delhi to Vancouver;
      • April 12: Air Canada202, Vancouver to Calgary;
      • April 12: Air Canada 2264, Fort St. John to Nanaimo;
      • April 13: Swoop 183, Edmonton to Abbotsford.

      The BCCDC lists affected row information at its website when available. 

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.