COVID-19 in B.C.: 22 new cases, student attendance levels at reopened schools, and vaccination preparations

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      For today’s daily COVID-19 update (June 3), B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix issued a news release in lieu of a news briefing, as Dr. Henry will be presenting a modelling update and pandemic analysis tomorrow (June 4).

      Daily update

      While there were only four new cases confirmed yesterday, there have since been 22 new cases, bringing B.C.’s cumulative total to 2,623 cases.

      Currently, there are 214 active cases in the province (with 32 people in hospital and seven of those patients in intensive-care units), and 2,243 people, or 86 percent of all cases, now recovered.

      Thus far, there have been 905 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,332 in Fraser Health, 127 in Island Health, 195 in Interior Health, and 64 in Northern Health.

      Once again, there aren't any new health-care outbreaks, and two outbreaks (at Cottage-Worthington Pavilion and the Cedars in Mission) are now over. Active outbreaks remain at six long-term care facilities, and there are seven active community outbreaks.

      Unfortunately, there is one new death (in Fraser Health), for a total of 166 fatalities.

      Attending protests

      Health experts have continued to express virus-transmission concerns about the ongoing mass gatherings held across North America to protest anti-black discrimination and police brutality. Whether they lead to increases in COVID-19 cases will remain unknown for about two weeks due to the incubation period of the virus.

      While Dr. Henry and Dix have previously expressed their support for those speaking out against racism, they once again emphasized the need to do so while maintaining health precautions during the pandemic.

      “Use this time to spread the message of respect and tolerance, rather than spreading the virus,” Dr. Henry and Dix stated in their news release. 

      The provincial health officer’s order limiting gatherings to 50 people remains in place.

      On June 1, Dr. Henry urged anyone who attended demonstrations in Vancouver this past week to monitor themselves for symptoms for the next two weeks. Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate and seek testing.

      B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming at Monterrey Middle School in Victoria.
      Province of British Columbia

      Back to school

      In-class instruction reopened as an option for all B.C. students on June 1, while students who aren’t attending school can still receive remote education.

      About 30 percent of all students, or almost 60,000 students, attended school on the first day, according to the B.C. education ministry.

      While the highest level of attendance was 48 percent of Grade 6 students, the lowest was among Grade 12 students, with only about 15 percent in attendance.

      More students will be returning to school at a staggered pace this week.

      Kindergarten to Grade 5 students are limited to 50 percent of a school’s capacity and will attend part-time or on an alternating schedule. Meanwhile, students in grades 6 to 12 are limited to 20 percent of a school’s capacity and will attend about one day per week.

      B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming said at a news conference on June 2 that a mix of online and in-class learning will most likely continue in the new school year starting in September.

      Dr. Henry also stated during her June 2 daily update that a hybrid model would be probable for school in the autumn.

      She also explained that having students return to classes in person now will help them prepare for how things can be conducted in the fall.

      Vaccination preparations

      While over 100 potential vaccines around the world remain under development, Canada is preparing for the mass distribution of an effective vaccine once it is created and approved.

      Canada’s Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand stated at a news conference on June 2 that Canada has signed a contract with Becton Dickinson Canada for 37 million syringes. Canada has a population of almost 38 million, according to a 2020 estimate by Statistics Canada.

      Anand also said that Canada is continuing to secure other supplies needed for mass vaccinations.

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