A pedestrian wearing a mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses an umbrella as snow falls in downtown Vancouver on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A pedestrian wearing a mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses an umbrella as snow falls in downtown Vancouver on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. records 26 deaths over Family Day weekend; top doctor says vaccine delivery ramping up

Daily cases stayed below 500 for each day of the long weekend

B.C. recorded 1,533 new cases of COVID-19, and 26 deaths, over the Family Day long weekend, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a press conference Tuesday (Feb. 16).

By day, the breaks down to 452 cases recorded Saturday, 431 cases reported Sunday, 348 cases on Monday, 302 on Tuesday and six epi-linked cases. There are a total of 4189 active cases currently, with 7,136 people under public health monitoring.

By region, the four-day total breaks down to 392 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 856 cases in Fraser Health, 92 cases in Interior Health, 58 cases in Island Health and 135 cases in Northern Health.

There have been a total of 74,283 cases of COVID-19 in B.C. since the pandemic began, as much of the province has spent months under heavy gathering restrictions. There are 231 people in hospital at the moment, 74 of whom are in intensive care or ICU. B.C.’s death toll from the coronavirus has reached 1,314.

There have been three new outbreaks in health-care facilities, and three that have ended. In total, there are 15 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities involving 561 residents and 349 staff, along with six in acute care. There have been two outbreaks in at schools and childcare centres; at Timothy Christian School in Chilliwack and the SFU Childcare Society.

Henry said that the deaths in long-term care stem from outbreaks that began prior to vaccination, or that residents or staff were infected right after their first dose, before the immune response and associated protection from COVID kicked in.

Henry said that there have been 171,755 doses of the COVID vaccine administered, of which 22,914 have been second doses. While B.C. has had few new doses of either approved COVID vaccines in recent weeks, Henry said that supply is ramping up and this week’s deliveries have already begun to show up.

But Health Minister Adrian Dix noted that the vaccination effort is not nearly far enough along for people to slow down on COVID safety measures.

“By April 1 about 10 per cent of the (B.C.) population will be immunized,” he said.

Henry said the B.C. health officials looked at data this weekend from other countries and at information from Quebec, which has delayed its second dose by months, to learn about the effects of delaying the second dose. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses.

“This delay of several weeks between the first dose… and the second dose… does not have a negative impact on vaccine effectiveness,” Henry said.

“We know we have a buffer where we can safely delay the second dose.”

Henry said that most people who received the Pfizer shot will get their second one within a 42-day window, but those who got the Moderna shot may have to wait longer due to the intervals between shipments. Overall, 4000-6000 people will get their second shot outside of the 42 day window.

However, there have also been more variants of concern detected in B.C. There have been 40 cases found of the U.K. B117 variant, 19 cases of the B1351 South African variant and one of the B1525 Nigerian variant.

Henry reminded British Columbians that while cases have gone down from their high late last year, the situation can change quickly. In the past week, Henry said, the reproductive number (how many people each positive case spreads the virus to) has risen above one.

“The precautions we take today will have an impact two weeks from now,” she said. “Now is not the time to increase our social interactions, now is not the time to increase our events.”

READ MORE: ‘Their voice really matters’: Survey asks for input from B.C. youth on COVID’s effects

READ MORE: 12% of COVID-19 rule breakers in B.C. have paid their fines


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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