B.C. adds 737 new cases of COVID-19; highest single-day increase since January
VANCOUVER -- In their final update of the week, B.C. health officials announced the most new cases of COVID-19 seen in the province in a single day since January.
B.C. added 737 new cases to its total on Friday, the most since Jan. 7. There have now been 90,786 cases of COVID-19 in the province since the pandemic began.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix also announced two more deaths from the disease in their written statement Friday.
A total of 1,421 people have died from COVID-19 in B.C.
Currently, 5,207 cases are active. Of those, 292 people are hospitalized, 85 of them in intensive care.
There are 9,412 people under active public health monitoring because of exposure to known cases of COVID-19.
Sixty-eight of the new cases announced Friday are variants of concern. There have now been a total of 1,200 variant cases in B.C., the vast majority of them the B.1.1.7 variant associated with the U.K.
Of B.C.'s variant cases, 149 are active. The rest of the people who have contracted a coronavirus variant in the province have recovered.
As B.C.'s case numbers have been worsening, the province's vaccine rollout has been accelerating.
Henry and Dix said 490,022 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered. That total includes 87,139 second doses.
The 402,883 residents who have received at least one dose of the vaccine represent roughly 7.8 per cent of B.C.'s population.
The province's top health officials announced Thursday that B.C. will soon be vaccinating more front-line workers using the AstraZeneca vaccine. That program will run parallel to the age-based vaccination program, which will open up to people ages 79 and older on Saturday.
“For those who have been at work throughout the pandemic, supporting so many others, please know your efforts are recognized and valued," Dix and Henry said in their written statement. "Everyone is important and everyone will have their turn."
Since Thursday's announcement, some groups not included in the front-line vaccination program have voiced displeasure with health officials' decisions about who should be vaccinated first.
Henry and Dix addressed their selection criteria in Friday's statement, and also suggested that more industries and groups of workers will be added to the list over time.
“The selection of the front-line workers for part two of this program is based on the known risk of transmission, as well as the nature and size of the workplace environment," the pair said. "As more vaccine becomes available, we will be able to expand to even more people on our front lines."
Increasing vaccination rates won't erase the need for physical distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing right away, however, and Dix and Henry reminded workers and employers to continue to follow COVID-19 safety plans, even if they have been vaccinated.
“We are working with all of the supply we have available to maximize our protection and we are using every last drop," the health officials said. "We also must focus on the individual actions that we need now more than ever to keep each other and our families and communities safe.”