Another 3,289 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in B.C. over the last three days and 18 more people have died, while the number of patients in critical care with the disease has risen to a record high, health officials announced Monday.
There are now 9,937 active cases of the novel coronavirus across B.C., Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a live briefing. Of those, 368 patients are in hospital, including 121 people in critical care.
“This is, I don’t need to say, our third wave,” Henry said.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said that there is still plenty of space in intensive care units provincewide, but things are starting to get tight in the Lower Mainland. In Vancouver Coastal Health, he said, the high occupancy rates are beginning to affect the surgical capacity of local hospitals.
About 15,900 people are currently under active monitoring by public health because of exposure to known cases of the virus.
There have been two new outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living.
To date, 1,513 people have died of the disease out of 112,829 confirmed cases. Henry said most of the recent deaths involve people in their 60s and 70s who live in the community — high vaccination rates in long-term care mean there hasn’t been a COVID-19 death in those settings for “quite a while.”
Henry said about 50 per cent of the province’s cases now involve variants of concern, particularly the B117 variant first identified in the U.K., but she said she was unable to give exact numbers because of a data collection issue.
She urged everyone to stick to their immediate neighbourhoods and only gather with small numbers of people outside as the province struggles to get the third wave under control. As an example, she said someone living in North Vancouver should not be visiting Richmond or Langley, and someone living in Sun Peaks should not be travelling to Oliver or Penticton.
Henry also noted that a new order announced last week comes into effect Monday night, allowing WorkSafeBC and public health to shut down workplaces where they are seeing transmission of the virus. A list of closed businesses will be posted on health authority websites.
“If a business is causing transmission, we need to take action,” she said.
Vaccine rollout picking up
About a quarter of eligible British Columbians have now received at least one dose of a vaccine. So far, more than 1.112 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, Henry said Monday.
Health Minister Adrian Dix noted that the province has the capacity to deliver many more doses daily than it is right now, but the supply is not yet high enough.
“If we can get more vaccine, we would love to have it … We hope more vaccine will be coming,” he said.
The province has announced dates for those aged 40 and older to register for their vaccine:
Registering for a vaccine is not the same as booking the appointment to get your shot. Once registered, users receive a confirmation code, followed by an email, a text or a call telling them when they’re eligible to use the code to make an appointment.
Henry also noted that transmission hotspots like Whistler, Prince Rupert and Terrace have been targeted for vaccination of all eligible adults.
For everyone else, she said, “please be patient. We cannot go to everybody at once.”