B.C. records 622 new cases of COVID-19 and 8 more deaths as vaccine timeline moves up

·3 min read
Seniors are pictured in line for their COVID-19 vaccination at a testing centre in the Vancouver Coastal Health region in Vancouver, British Columbia on Monday, March 15, 2021.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Seniors are pictured in line for their COVID-19 vaccination at a testing centre in the Vancouver Coastal Health region in Vancouver, British Columbia on Monday, March 15, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

B.C. health officials announced 622 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths on Thursday.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 286 people, 85 of whom are in intensive care.

A total of 1,419 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

There are currently 4,941 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with public health monitoring 9,620 people across B.C. who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. More than 83,613 people who tested positive have recovered.

There have been 136 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are linked to variants of concern, for a total of 1,132 cases. Of the total cases, 143 are active and the remaining people have recovered.

The variants detected include 1,040 cases of the B117 variant associated with the U.K., 41 cases of the B1351 associated with South Africa and 51 cases of the P1 variant associated with Brazil.

The seven day rolling average of new cases is now at its highest since Jan. 12 and hospitalizations have increased 32 per cent in one month.

The statement from the province urged B.C. residents to continue to follow pandemic restrictions, writing that "until we have the confidence the pandemic is behind us, we all need continue to follow the COVID-19 safety plans, to be vigilant in our precautions and diligent in our efforts to stop the spread."

B.C. now allows groups of 10 to gather outdoors, but has not loosened restrictions around indoor gatherings.

B.C. recorded no new outbreaks in health-care facilities. So far, 465,584 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 87,120 of those being second doses.

Updated vaccine rollout timeline

Earlier on Thursday, the province announced that more than 300,000 front-line workers in B.C., such as teachers, child-care workers, grocery store staff and first responders, will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine next month as it moves ahead with its vaccination plan.

The Ministry of Health said people in priority groups will receive their first dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in April.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the age-based rollout is ahead of schedule and that progress, combined with the incoming supply of AstraZeneca vaccines, means the province can move to vaccinate those working in specific front-line industries.

The province said it expects to receive about 340,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of May and it plans to use a combination of community pharmacists, existing clinics and mobile clinics at some worksites to administer the vaccine to the workers.

The province also announced more details on the accelerated timeline for people receiving their vaccine based on their age. The new schedule shows people from 18 to 59 all eligible by the end of June, an update that more clearly explains how the province plans to meet its target of first doses for every eligible adult in the province by July 1.

The next age cohort on the list, which includes people 79 and over, as well as Indigenous people 55 and over, will be able to call to book a vaccine appointment as of Saturday.