COVID-19 variant cases surge again today in B.C.

·2 min read

Cases of COVID-19 variants of concern continue to escalate in B.C., with 46 new ones announced today.

Sixteen of the 246 total variant cases to date are currently active. Of the variant cases, 218 are the so-called U.K. variant and 28 of the South African variant. The majority of these cases are located in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health regions—178 and 60 in those two health areas respectively.

About a quarter of the cases continue to be untracked in terms of transmission. Four of the people currently in hospital have variants of concern and two deaths in recent days have been in people with variants.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also reported 564 new cases, 12 of which are epidemiologically linked. B.C.’s cumulative case total has reached 82,473.

Of the new cases, 168 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 279 in the Fraser Health region, 35 in the Island Health region, 36 in the Interior Health region and 46 in the Northern Health region.

As cases rise across the province, particularly in the Lower Mainland, Richmond is also experiencing a surge. Between Feb. 21 and 27 there were 100 new cases recorded here, compared to 80 the previous week and less than half that number the week before.

There are 4,743 active cases and 248 people hospitalized with the virus, 63 of whom are in critical care. A further 8,659 people are under active public health monitoring.

Sadly, four people lost their lives due to COVID-19 since yesterday. There were no new healthcare outbreaks announced.

To date, 298,851 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, 86,746 of which are second doses.

Henry also spoke today on an additional vaccination plan for first responders and other essential workers, using the AstraZeneca vaccine. Delivery of this vaccine will run “in parallel but separate from our age-based community-based immunization program,” she said.

The province’s immunization committee is establishing who should receive that vaccine and in what order. Henry hopes to deliver a detailed plan to the public in the next two weeks, and she targeted March 18 as a possible date for that announcement.

The initial AstraZeneca shipment will be used to address “ongoing clusters and outbreaks that are leading to rapidly increasing numbers in some places, some communities, to best protect our communities,” Henry said.

She also acknowledged the uptick in new cases, and the rise of more transmissible variants, particularly in the Lower Mainland.

“We can’t let these successes—the vaccines we have now—be diminished by a surge in cases that will lead us to a third wave.”

Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel