Dr. Bonnie Henry announced today’s COVID numbers following the Easter long weekend.
1,068 new cases of COVID-19 have been found within the province during the period from Monday to Tuesday. Of these, 106 are located in the Interior Health region.
328 people are in hospital in BC due to COVID-19, 96 of those are in the ICU. Of these, 63 have been diagnosed as having a variant of the COVID-19 virus, primarily the variant B117.
An additional three people have died, bringing the total number of deaths in BC up to 1,489.
To date, 912,056 doses of vaccine have been delivered, with 87,474 being the necessary second dose.
Dr. Henry also spoke about the online vaccine registration which launched this morning.
“This means you can pre-register, and then when your age eligibility comes up you will automatically be contacted to book your appointment either online, by phone or in person,” said Dr. Henry.
“As of today, people 71 and older and indigenous peoples 18 and over, and people who have their letters around Clinically Extremely Vulnerable may book appointments.”
Although high risk workplace employees continue to be immunized as possible, questions have arisen regarding the safety of some available vaccines.
“Our parallel worker focus program remains on pause right now as we are continuing to get more information about the AstraZeneca and Covishield vaccines,” explained Dr. Henry, who also noted discussions with experts around the world continue to take place.
“We’re hoping to have some more information about that very soon. In the meantime, we will be using the AstraZeneca that we have in BC to advance the age groups that are eligible for vaccine, and we’ve heard good news that we might be receiving additional vaccines with the Johnson and Johnson or the Janssen vaccine being available sometime near the end of this month.”
Variant cases continue to be a concern, and Dr. Henry spoke to their effect at length in today’s briefing.
“Viruses, by their very nature, mutate and change,” said Dr. Henry.
“And as more transmission happens, if there’s more virus transmitting it means it’s changing, it’s replicating more often, the opportunity for these mutations to occur goes up, and that’s why these variants arise where there’s lots of cases happening.”
B117 is the top variant of concern within the province of BC, with Dr. Henry stating that this variant “is taking over”, although it has not yet affected the efficiency of the vaccine.
The finger has been pointed, most notably by Premier John Horgan, at those in the younger age brackets for being responsible for higher case numbers of COVID-19. Dr. Henry cautioned that young people are now being harder hit by the illness, due to the mutated variants of the coronavirus.
“Numbers of young people in hospital have increased and numbers of younger people needing ICU care has increased, and that is concerning,” said Dr. Henry, who stressed that people must continue to socially distance and do what they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald