16 deaths and 1,785 cases of COVID-19 in B.C. as third wave poised to rise | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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16 deaths and 1,785 cases of COVID-19 in B.C. as third wave poised to rise

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix provides a COVID-19 update as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry looks on, Dec. 17, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
March 22, 2021 - 4:04 PM

We're not through "the COVID-19 storm" just yet, and those who flout health orders will face repercussions, B.C.'s top doctor said today, March 22.

“This is a time where we need to take those little sacrifices, all of us, so that we can continue to keep those important workplaces open, we can continue to support our children to be in school, and we can continue to support our immunization programs so that we can all be safe, very soon,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, after announcing 1,785 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday, and 16 more deaths.

“For businesses, I also want to be clear, you must continue to have COVID-19 safety plans, regardless of whether you've been vaccinated or employees have been vaccinated.… Around the province we will take all necessary steps, including closing businesses where we're seeing ongoing transmission, if that is required for at least 10 days. So for all of us, don't let up now. And if you are blatantly disregarding those public health orders, there are ramifications for that.”

Taking a softer tone, Dr. Henry said also that she realizes it was a “bleak winter” and the “hopeful spring” is upon us. But that doesn’t mean gathering inside, holding big events, like weddings.

It means, at best, spending time outside with a safe and smaller group of people.

She is also still looking at easing restrictions around religious gatherings.

“As I mentioned last week on religious gatherings, we're working on the final touches of amending the variance for outdoor religious gatherings, based on the advice that I gratefully received from many faith leaders last week. That will be coming in the next day or so.”

That said, high COVID-19 cases is threatening to put a quick stop to a lessening of restrictions.

Dr. Henry said the variants of COVID-19 are moving quickly.

There were another 166 variants of concern cases retrospectively identified today, for a total of 1,366 cases in the province. Of those, 237 are active and the remaining people are past the acute phase.

The predominant variant of concern that B.C. health officials continue to see is the UK variant, and there are 1,240 cases.

They are primarily in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health Region. There are 41 South African variant cases, and an increase in the Brazil variant, where 20 cases have been identified.

Of all these cases, only 31 have been within Interior Health. 

The variants are not resulting in a higher rate of death or hospitalization, she said but they are an issue, considering only 539,408 vaccines have been distributed to date, which is only 10.45% of the 4.3 million eligible for the vaccine. The age-based arm of vaccination distribution is into 78 year olds, and they’re moving along quickly.

“The vaccines of course provide us with a great deal of hope,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

“But the orders are still in place and gathering indoors is a major problem in British Columbia and continues to be with respect to COVID-19. If you're thinking of going out for a birthday celebration or someone invites you to a wedding celebration somewhere, do not go right now.”

Dix reminded British Columbians they should only gather with people indoors when they are the people in their household.

“That continues to be the case and with these case numbers, we have to recognize the necessity of that right now,” he said.

It is particularly important to Metro Vancouver, but he pointed out, as has been seen in the course of this pandemic, it matters everywhere in B.C.

Dix said he understands that the vaccine is being viewed positively, but there are other issues that need to be addressed.

“Hospitalizations, people in ICU, daily infections, the seven day weekly average, COVID variant cases, people in self isolation and B.C.'s active cases are all too high,” he said. “All too high right now — we are all excited about getting our shot, about getting our turn. COVID doesn't care about vaccine optimism, it lives to spread, and it spreads to live, that's it. And right now the living is too easy for COVID-19 in B.C.”

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