With case numbers dropping in most categories, the curve slowly bending, and vaccinations progressing throughout the province, British Columbians are awaiting news about when various sectors can reopen.
B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that there won’t be any changes to provincial health orders until after the May long weekend (May 22 to 24). However, she said when things begin reopening, it will be a slow and gradual process to be conducted over several weeks and months, with pauses to monitor the situation, in many different areas.
“Don’t expect to see on one day, [that] everything’s going to come back,” she said.
Henry said that they will be reviewing vaccination numbers (including considering peak of three-week effectiveness) and transmission levels to determine what can be done next, and will be presenting a plan for reopening.
When asked about a possible fourth wave, Henry said that although we know that the current measures being used are effective, in addition to vaccinations, she added that “all bets are off if things change globally”.
As we head into the next respiratory virus season this coming autumn, Henry said, “we may to change some of the things we’re doing again”.
In addition, she said because that the virus will continue to reproduce and mutate, one of the concerns remains whether or not a variant will arise that can infect people who have been partially or fully vaccinated.
Accordingly, she said, they are actively monitoring places like the U.K. to see what happens.
She said that’s why it’s important to increase vaccination levels as quickly as possible to prevent any further variants from taking hold.
She said that she expects the virus to be present for many years but “how it impacts us will be very different from what is happening right now”, such as shifting to sporadic outbreaks but that most people will be immunized.
COVID-19 relief in India
As India struggles to address its COVID-19 crisis, the B.C. government is providing $500,000 to the Canadian Red Cross, which is offering support to the Indian Red Cross Society. That’s in addition to $10 million from the federal government to the Canadian Red Cross to support the Indian Red Cross.
British Columbians who want to donate to emergency efforts in India can call 1-800-418-1111 or online through the Canadian Red Cross’ India COVID-19 response appeal.
In addition, donations for COVID-19 relief in India will be accepted at all B.C. Cannabis Stores and B.C. Liquor Stores as of today (May 17).
B.C. update: May 14 to 17
Henry announced today that a total of 1,360 new cases were confirmed over this past weekend, which includes:
- 443 new cases from May 14 to 15;
- 493 new cases from May 15 to 16;
- 424 new cases from May 16 to 17.
By region, there were:
- 861 new cases in Fraser Health;
- 291 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
- 126 in Interior Health;
- 47 in Northern Health;
- 36 in Island Health;
- no one from outside of Canada.
Currently, there are 5,021 active cases, which is a decrease of 527 cases since May 14.
Hospitalized cases also decreased over the weekend—350 people are in hospitals (a drop of 37 people since May 14) and 132 of those patients are in intensive care units (a decrease of nine people since May 14).
Something that B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix pointed out is that although these numbers are lower than they were at the record-high levels in April (the record was 511 patients), they remain “significantly above” the height of the first wave at this time last year when there were 149 people in hospital, with 72 patients in intensive care units.
Tragically, there were 14 deaths over the past three time periods. A total of 1,648 people in B.C. have died during the pandemic.
Henry said that by age, the deaths include:
- one person in the 40 to 49 age group;
- one person in the 50 to 59 age group:
- 12 people who are 60 years and above (including four in the 70 to 79 age group and four in the 80 to 89 age group).
A cumulative total of 132,841 people have recovered, which includes 1,888 recoveries over the weekend.
B.C.’s cumulative total cases during the pandemic is now at 139,664 cases.
A total of 2,538,328 doses have been administered in B.C.’s immunization program, with 130,023 of those being second doses.
Henry said that over 55 percent of all eligible individuals in B.C. have now received their first dose and approximately three percent of eligible individuals have received their second dose.
Henry said that as data can take three weeks or longer to develop full protection from vaccine doses, she encouraged everyone to get a vaccine as soon as possible.
Outbreaks and exposures
There aren’t any new healthcare or community outbreaks.
Active healthcare outbreaks remain in five facilities: three in longterm care facilities and two in acute care facilities.
Over the past week, there have been some public exposure events and business closures related to dance.
On May 12, Fraser Health listed two public exposures at two dance competitions.
The Core Dance Competition at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Centre (36035 North Parallel Road) in Abbotsford was listed as having exposures from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 5 and 8, and from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on May 6.
There was also an exposure at Synergy Dance Competition at the Sheraton Vancouver Guilford Hotel (15269 104th Avenue) in Surrey from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 7.
In addition, Fraser Health listed Dance Collective (202–4199 Lougheed Highway) in Burnaby as being closed on May 14 due to COVID-19.
Other workplace closures by Fraser Health on May 14 include:
- Canada Cartage (1488 Coast Meridian Road) in Port Coquitlam (partial closure only for office staff);
- ICICI Bank Canada (7109–7031 120th Street) in Delta;
- West Coast Property Management (208–8333 East Lake Drive) in Burnaby.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) added the following 11 flights to its lists of public exposures (after row information is listed at the BCCDC website when available):
- April 30: Flair 8821, Calgary to Vancouver;
- May 2: United Airlines 5689: San Francisco to Vancouver;
- May 5: WestJet 3140, Edmonton to Calgary;
- May 5: WestJet 3387, Calgary to Kelowna;
- May 6: North Cariboo Air 102, Kelowna to Fort St. John;
- May 9: Air Canada 8839, San Francisco to Vancouver;
- May 10: Air Canada/Jazz 8544, Vancouver to Winnipeg;
- May 13: Air Canada/Jazz 8239, Terrace to Vancouver;
- May 11: Air Canada 3387 Calgary to Kelowna;
- May 11: Pacific Coastal 8P610, Cranbrook to Vancouver;
- May 12: Air Canada 8547, Winnipeg to Vancouver.