At today’s B.C. COVID-19 briefing, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry once again spoke about the extension of the second dose to 16 weeks after the first dose, which she announced on March 1.
She explained that this extension “reflects us learning as we go through this pandemic” and that public health continues to learn more about the vaccines, including effectiveness and safety.
“We did take need to take this decision rather rapidly over this weekend after extensive consultation because we are coming up to a time this week where there was tens of thousands of doses being scheduled for people to receive their second dose,” she said, “and that would have left us with very little vaccine to able to continue our need to protect more people in more communities around the province.”
She apologized to individuals, longterm care homes, and communities who had second doses scheduled for several months now.
“I know that came as a shock for many people, and I regret that our communications weren’t able to keep up as fast as the decision-making,” she said. “But please know that this was made in the spirit of understanding data and maximizing the benefit to all of us, and that dose you didn’t receive on Tuesday or Wednesday or today is now being administered to a community member, to another member of our family, our community here in B.C., to protect them, and ultimately it will bring us all closer to getting to our post-pandemic world.”
As stated yesterday, the National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI) and Canada's Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health have endorsed this extension of the vaccine “up to four months after the first” dose, as stated on its website.
Meanwhile in health violation news, Burnaby RCMP reported today that its officers issued 10 violation tickets and responded to 56 complaints during the month of February, including at workplaces and residences.
B.C. update: March 4
Henry announced there are 564 new cases (including 12 epi-linked cases) in B.C. today.
By region, that includes:
- 279 new cases in Fraser Health;
- 168 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
- 46 in Northern Health;
- 36 in Interior Health;
- 35 in Island Health.
Currently, there are 4,742 active cases, which is an increase of 88 case since yesterday.
Today, there are 248 hospitalized cases (an increase of two people), with 64 of those patients in intensive care units (the same number as yesterday).
Public health is currently monitoring 8,659 people who have been exposed to identified cases, which is 42 more people since yesterday.
Unfortunately, four more people have died. That brings the total fatalities in B.C. during the pandemic to 1,376 people who have died of COVID-19-related causes.
A cumulative total of 76,269 people have now recovered, which includes 450 recoveries since yesterday.
B.C. has recorded a total of 82,473 cases during the pandemic.
Variants and vaccines
Of the new cases, there are 46 new variant cases, and currently there are active 16 variant cases.
So far, there has been a cumulative total of 246 variant cases detected in BC., which include:
- 218 cases of the B117 variant (U.K.);
- 28 cases of the B1351 (South Africa).
By region, that includes:
- 178 variant cases in Fraser Health;
- 60 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health;
- six in Island Health;
- two in Interior Health;
- none in Northern Health or among people who reside outside Canada.
Currently, there are four people with COVID-19 variants in hospital, and Henry said two people with variants have died in recent days.
B.C.’s immunization program has almost reached 300,000 people.
As of today, 298,851 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C., and 86,746 of those are second doses.
Henry said that the first deliveries of the AstraZeneca-Serum Institute of India COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in a few days.
She said this vaccine will be administered to first responders and essential workers, and that the delivery of these vaccines will operate separately from the age-based community immunization program.
As she pointed out that this group was originally scheduled for Phases 3 and 4, she said that “it is an added bonus to us that we now have these vaccines earlier in this program”.
A detailed plan for the distribution of this vaccine will be provided later this month.
Outbreaks and exposures
Henry said that there are active outbreaks in seven in longterm and assisted-living care facilities, three in independent living facilities, and eight in acute care facilities. She said that there are 400 cases involved in healthcare outbreaks in longterm care and assisted-living facilities (269 residents and 131 staff).
Fraser Health stated today that after a COVID-19 exposure at Archbishop Carney Regional Secondary in Port Coquitlam, the school will close for a three-week period due to staffing challenges. It will reopen on March 29.
Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) provided an update today about cases in Whistler, stating that the number of transmissions continues to decline. VCH stated that there were 18 new cases from February 22 to 28, bringing the total number of cases confirmed since January 1 to 720 cases. A total of 699 people have recovered.
Once again, none of the five regional health authorities listed any new public exposure incidents.
T&T Supermarket stated that a part-time employee who tested positive last worked on February 27 at the Coquitlam store (2740–2929 Barnet Highway).
Sobeys added three stores with staff members who tested positive.
One store was Thrifty Foods at 1207 56th Street in Delta, where an employee who tested positive last worked on February 24.
The other two locations were Safeway stores:
- an employee who tested positive last worked on February 26 at the 780–2601 Westview Drive store in North Vancouver;
- an employee who tested positive last worked on February 27 at the 8860 152nd Street store in Surrey.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) added eight flights to its lists of COVID-19 public exposure incidents:
- February 21: Delta 3702, Seattle to Vancouver;
- February 24: Air Canada 311, Montreal to Vancouver;
- February 25: EVA Air 9, Vancouver to Taipei;
- February 26: Air Canada 223, Calgary to Vancouver;
- February 26: Air Canada/Jazz 8240, Vancouver to Terrace;
- February 28: Air Canada/Jazz 8069, Vancouver to Victoria;
- February 28: Air India 185, Delhi to Vancouver;
- March 1: Flair 8822, Vancouver to Calgary.
Affected row information is available at the BCCDC website.