Outdoor worship now on in B.C.; 682 new COVID-19 cases | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Outdoor worship now on in B.C.; 682 new COVID-19 cases

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
Image Credit: Flickr/Province of B.C.
March 23, 2021 - 4:43 PM

B.C. health officials amended public health orders today to allow for outdoor worship and people over the age of 16, with compromised health, can start getting in line for their vaccination.

"Starting today, letters will be sent to people 16 and older who are clinically extremely vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19 to let them know they are eligible to receive an earlier vaccine through the age-based immunization program," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement.

"Significant work has been done to identify those health conditions that would cause someone to be clinically extremely vulnerable, as well as to identify the people in our province who have these illnesses. For many, knowing that COVID-19 would compound what are already serious illnesses has created added challenge and stress - concerns that will soon be relieved."

Those who have been missing the opportunity to go to worship together will also have some stress alleviated, as the order has been amended today to provide a variance for outdoor worship services.

"Worship service organizers must ensure COVID-19 safety plans are in place for all outdoor services and all attendees follow those plans. The full details are available on the provincial health officer's web page," they said.

"While we are immunizing more people every day, and in parallel slowly turning the dial on the restrictions we have in place, we must remember the risk for all of us remains high, particularly with indoor activities - whether for work or social reasons. As a result, to get through this storm and continue to protect our loved ones, we must all continue to use our safety layers and follow all of the public health restrictions we have in place."

While restrictions are lessening, case numbers are on the rise. Yesterday, Dr. Henry indicated that B.C. may be entering, or in, its third wave of the pandemic — a term she's loath to use.

Today, she reported an addition 682 new cases of COVID-19 overnight, 76 of which are in Interior Health, for a total of 93,253 cases since the start of the pandemic.

Of the 76 new cases in Interior Health, 36 are historic cases from 2020 identified through a data review.

There are 5,409 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 9,488 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases. Of the active cases, 314 people are hospitalized, of which 83 are in intensive care. Another person has died from the disease

There have been 144 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in B.C., for a total of 1,510 cases. Of the total cases, 171 are active and the remaining people have recovered. This includes 1,357 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, 43 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 110 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.

To date, 557,508 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-SII COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C., 87,168 of which are second doses. Vaccine appointment bookings are now open for people 77 or older and Indigenous peoples over 55.

Of the new cases, 229 were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 333 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 19 in the Island Health region, 76 in the Interior Health region, 23 in the Northern Health region and two new cases of people who reside outside of Canada. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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