COVID-19 in B.C.: Federal officials approve extended vaccine interval, Vancouver pizza shop mask dispute, and more

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      This week, questioning arose after B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced on March 1 that B.C. is extending the interval between vaccine doses to 16 weeks (four months).

      However, Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in a joint statement today (March 3) that the National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI) and Canada's Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health “have endorsed this approach”.

      The NACI’s recommendations on the use of vaccines are available at their website.

      Health measure conflicts

      In one of the latest incidents involving resistance to health measures, CTV News reported today that a video surfaced of two adult male suspects yelling, swearing, making racist comments, and insulting employees at a Kitsilano location of Pizza Pizza due to a disagreement about the store’s policy on the evening of February 20.

      Although the store requires customers to wear masks in order to be served. A provincial health order requires everyone to wear a mask in all indoor public places, including in retail spaces.

      The men were captured on video then leaving the shop and becoming physically aggressive with a male teen, who was not involved in the previous exchange and had been waiting outside to enter the store.

      Vancouver police reportedly stopped the men, who had left in a vehicle, and that charges of impaired driving and assault are being recommended.

      In an update to a previously reported assault at a Downtown Vancouver gym on February 17, the Vancouver Sun reported that Elvis Li has been charged with assault causing bodily harm and was scheduled to appear in court today.

      A male patron at Fitness World on Granville Street allegedly asked Li to wear a mask, whereupon Li punched and pushed the man. When the victim fell down, he hit his head on exercise equipment and sustained injuries that required 12 stitches.

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, with Health Minister Adrian Dix
      Province of British Columbia

      B.C. update: March 3

      Henry and Dix announced, in a joint statement, that there are 542 new cases (which includes five epi-linked cases) in B.C. today.

      By region, that includes:

      • 292 new cases in Fraser Health (54 percent);
      • 131 in Vancouver Coastal Health (24 percent);
      • 44 in Northern Health (eight percent);
      • 43 in Interior Health (eight percent);
      • 31 in Island Health (six percent);
      • one person from outside of Canada (less than one percent).

      Active cases have been up and down all week. Currently, there are 4,654 active cases, which is a decrease of 25 cases since yesterday.

      Hospitalized cases continue to increase. There more hospitalized cases since yesterday raises the total to 246 individuals in hospitals today, with 64 of them (one more since yesterday) in intensive care units.

      Among the new cases, there are 18 new variant cases, which brings the cumulative total to 200 variant cases and 11 cases remain active. The total cases include 176 cases of the B117 (U.K.) variant and 24 of the B1351 (South Africa) variant.

      Tragically, there have been seven new COVID-19-related deaths. The cumulative number of fatalities in B.C. during the pandemic is now at 1,372 people who have died.

      Public health is monitoring 8,617 people due to exposure to identified cases, which is an increase of 172 people since yesterday.

      With 564 more people having recovered, a cumulative total of 75,819 people have now recovered.

      During the pandemic, B.C. has reported a cumulative total of 81,909 cases, including:

      • 48,132 cases in Fraser Health;
      • 18,989 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 7,486 in Interior Health;
      • 4,693 in Northern Health;
      • 2.454 in Island Health;
      • 155 people from outside Canada.

      Thus far, 289,809 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., and 86,616 of those are second doses.

      Outbreaks and exposures

      There’s good news: there aren’t any new healthcare outbreaks and none of the five regional health authorities added any new public exposure events.

      Loblaw stated that an employee who tested positive last worked on February 28 at the Real Canadian Superstore at 910 Columbia Street West in Kamloops.

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