B.C. recorded two somber milestones today: a record-breaking 1,013 new COVID-19 cases in one day, and passing the 100,000 case mark since the pandemic began.
Six of the new cases are epidemiologically linked. Since the pandemic began, B.C. has recorded 100,048 cases.
Of the new cases, 385 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region (including Richmond), 458 in the Fraser Health region, 47 in the Island Health region, 64 in the Interior Health region and 60 in the Northern Health region.
There are 7,405 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and 301 people are hospitalized, 80 of whom are in intensive care. A further 11,468 people are under active public health monitoring.
Health authorities did not provide an update on new confirmed cases that are variants of concern today due to a delay in the sequencing analysis.
To date, 756,080 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-SII COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C., 87,351 of which are second doses.
Sadly, there were three new virus-related deaths reported today, bringing that total to 1,458.
Health authorities reported one new healthcare facility outbreak and declared one over. Outbreaks continue at three long-term care, assisted living and independent living facilities and nine acute care facilities.
In just 10 days, daily new cases rose from 498 on March 17 to 1,013 today, according to public health officials. In that time, active cases shot up by 2,500. Hospitalizations remained relatively flat, although after coming down below 300 in late January they have climbed above that number again, health officials reported.
In the same period, multiple public health restrictions were relaxed or modified. People can now gather outside in groups of up to 10 (as of March 11). Care facilities will allow more visitation for residents beginning April 1. And in-person religious services can take place outdoors with restrictions.
A three-week “circuit breaker” was announced in B.C. on Monday amid still-rising numbers. Limited indoor religious services, announced last week, were suspended. And masks were made mandatory for all students from Grade 4 to 12 until at least April 19.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry appeared to confirm the province is experiencing a third wave in its fight against the virus during a press conference last week.
“We ask about whether we’re in a third wave,” she said. “It really is, we’ve come down from the peak of our second wave but we have levelled out for many weeks now, and it’s a slow and steady increase.”
Another concerning factor is the increasing number of so-called “variants of concern.” Henry and Dix reported 2,553 total variant cases yesterday, up 320 from the previous day’s number. A slowly increasing statistic in February, the month of March saw it rise from 158 (March 1) to more than 2,500 total.
Two categories are experiencing sustained low numbers: new deaths, now down to just a handful per day compared to 10 or more in November and December; and healthcare outbreaks, down to just 12 yesterday from a peak of 66 reported by Henry and Dix Dec. 8.
As B.C. passes its 100,000th recorded case of COVID-19, the presence of vaccines seems a hopeful addition—but does not erase the risk factor.
“While more and more people are getting vaccinated every day, it’s very important that the risk for all of us remains high, and we see that in our seven-day rolling average, we see that in the increasing that we’ve seen over the last few weeks,” said Henry.
For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and to find a testing centre near you: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.
Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel