What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. for Feb. 15

·3 min read
People take advantage of heavy snowfall in Victoria on Saturday. The South Coast has had a snowy long weekend.
People take advantage of heavy snowfall in Victoria on Saturday. The South Coast has had a snowy long weekend.

(Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC News)

THE LATEST:

  • On Friday, the province announced 445 more cases of COVID-19 and 10 more deaths from the disease.

  • There are 226 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, including 61 in intensive care.

  • There now 4,347 active cases of the novel coronavirus across the province.

  • A total of 1,288 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C. out of 72,750 confirmed cases.

  • To date, 162,982 doses of vaccine have been administered, including 17,562 second doses.

  • Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are expected to provide an update on Tuesday, after the long weekend.

Health officials are expected to provide an update on COVID-19 numbers in B.C. tomorrow, a day later than usual due to the long weekend.

On Friday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix pleaded with British Columbians to stay local and stick to their households to stop transmission over the Family Day and Lunar New Year long weekend.

Henry said B.C. is making progress on getting the second wave of the pandemic under control, but that it's going to continue, and everyone needs to stay local and stick to their households, in accordance with public health orders and advice.

"We are trending in the right direction ... but slowly," she said.

More vaccines on the way

To date, 46 cases of COVID-19 variants have been confirmed in B.C., including 29 of the variant first reported in the U.K. and 17 of the variant first reported in South Africa.

It will be another month before vaccinations in B.C. substantially ramp up. Henry said B.C. can expect a significant increase in shipments of vaccines this week, after weeks of reduced supply.

That includes more than 50,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech product, about half of which will be used for second doses.

There has been a recent decrease in transmission in long-term care facilities and assisted living, where staff and residents across the province have received the shot. Henry says it's "clear evidence" that immunization is taking effect.

Henry said she has faith that vaccination will bring the pandemic under control, but if the variants of concern start spreading widely in B.C., achieving that goal will be much more difficult.

At the moment, she estimates about 0.1 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in B.C. involve variants of concern, and public health workers are not seeing ongoing transmission.

However, only 15 per cent of positive COVID-19 tests in B.C. are being further tested for variants, because there's only one lab that can do the lengthy sequencing of the whole virus.

Some experts say mass vaccinations and warmer weather in the months ahead may not come quick enough to blunt the effects of the variants.

READ MORE:

What's happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 4:30 p.m. PT on Sunday, Canada had reported 823,353 cases of COVID-19, with 36,656 cases considered active.

A total of 21,228 people have died.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.

  • Cough.

  • Tiredness.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Loss of taste or smell.

  • Headache.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean.

  • Keep at least two metres away from people outside your bubble. Keep your distance from people who are sick.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.