COVID-19 in B.C.: State of emergency hits one-year mark; no new healthcare or community outbreaks; and more

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      How time doesn't fly when you're not having fun.

      Today (March 16) marks the one year anniversary since B.C. first declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

      It was announced in 2020 one day after B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry declared a public health emergency. (For a timeline of COVID-19 in B.C., see this article.) 

      The provincial government has continually extended the state of emergency and extended it today for the 26th time, this time until March 30.

      B.C. Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth thanked all the British Columbians who are following the rules and warned those who are not.

      “For those who don't, our compliance and enforcement officers have the tools they need to enforce the orders,” Farnworth said in a statement. “Know that if you break the rules, you will face consequences."

      From August 21, 2020, to March 12, 2021, B.C. officers have issued 1,471 violation tickets, including:

      • 221 violation tickets of $2,300 each to owners or organizers for gatherings or events;
      • 39 fines of $2,300 each for violating food and liquor provincial health orders;
      • 1,211 tickets of $230 each to individuals who refused to follow direction from law enforcement;
      • 113 violation tickets to individuals who contravened the Federal Quarantine Act, for a total of $369,842 in fines.

      Meanwhile in today's COVID-19 update, although active, hospitalized, and monitored cases have all increased, there are some positive points.

      Province of British Columbia

      B.C. update: March 16

      In a joint statement, B.C. provincial health officer and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced there are 556 new cases (including 14 epi-linked cases) in B.C. today.

      By region, that includes:

      • 331 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 139 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 41 in Northern Health;
      • 27 in Island Health;
      • 16 in Interior Health;
      • two people from outside of Canada.

      Currently, there are 4,999 active cases, which is 12 more than yesterday. 

      With 11 more people admitted to hospital since yesterday, there are now 280 hospitalized individuals, 84 of them are in intensive care units.

      Public health is monitoring 9,511 people for exposure to identified cases—an increase of 152 people since yesterday.

      The good news is that there aren’t any new COVID-19-related deaths today. The total number of fatalities during the pandemic remains at 1,407 people who have died.

      With 546 more recoveries since yesterday, a cumulative total of 82,436 people have now recovered.

      During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 88,929 cases.

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix
      Province of British Columbia

      Variants and vaccines

      Today, there are 116 new COVID-19 variant cases, which brings the cumulative total to 996 cases.

      Of these cases, 130 are currently active.

      The total includes:

      • 921 cases of the B117 (U.K.) variant;
      • 41 cases of the B1351 (South Africa) variant;
      • 34 cases of the P1 (Brazil) variant.

      As of today, 424,517 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca-SII vaccines have been administered in B.C., and 87,070 of those are second doses.

      Outbreaks and exposures

      Some welcome news is that there aren’t any new healthcare facility or community outbreaks.

      Also, Northern Health declared the healthcare outbreak at Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert to be over. In this outbreak, there was a total of 57 cases (33 residents and 24 staff who tested positive) and 16 residents who died.

      In addition, none of the five regional health authorities added any new public exposure events.

      Over the past week, McDonald’s had four locations in the Lower Mainland with staff members who tested positive, including:

      • one employee who last worked on March 4 at 1706 Robson Street in Vancouver;
      • one employee who last worked on March 9 at 45225 Luckakuck Way in Chilliwack;
      • an employee who last worked on March 10 at 2095 West 41st Avenue Vancouver;
      • an employee who last worked on March 12 at 101–1940 Oxford Connector in Port Coquitlam.

      Sobeys stated that one employee who tested positive last worked on March 14 at Safeway located at 1100–2850 Shaughnessy Street in Port Coquitlam.

      Loblaw stated that two employees who tested positive last worked on March 3 and 9 at the Real Canadian Superstore at 7550 King George Boulevard in Surrey.

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

      • March 5: Air Canada 301, Montreal to Vancouver;
      • March 7: Swoop 183, Edmonton to Abbotsford;
      • March 8: Air Canada 306, Vancouver to Montreal;
      • March 11: Philippines Air Lines 116, Manila to Vancouver.

      Affected row information is listed at the BCCDC website. 

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