COVID-19 update: B.C. adds 873 cases as variant count tops 5,000
Published Tuesday, April 13, 2021 7:34AM PDT Last Updated Tuesday, April 13, 2021 7:35PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- B.C. health officials announced another 873 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday as the number of confirmed infections involving variants of concern topped 5,000.
In a joint written statement, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix revealed there are now 5,221 identified cases of the B.1.1.7, P.1 and B.1.351 variants, 258 of which remain active.
Due to an unspecified data issue that prevented officials from sharing weekend variant numbers on Monday, the government hasn't provided an update on variants of concern since last week, when there were 4,111 confirmed cases.
During her last COVID-19 briefing, Henry indicated "we are at approximately 50 per cent of cases across the province who now have one of the variants."
The vast majority of B.C.'s variant cases involve the faster-spreading B.1.1.7 variant associated with the U.K., though the province also has 1,529 cases of the P.1 variant associated with Brazil – which has caused some international epidemiologists to sound the alarm, given research that suggests its mutations may impact the efficacy of some vaccines.
Henry and Dix also announced two more deaths related to COVID-19. The province has now recorded a total of 113,702 cases and 1,515 fatalities since the start of the pandemic.
B.C.'s number of active cases dropped to 9,756 – down from 9,937 on Monday – and the province's rolling weekly average dipped from a record high of 1,129 cases per day down to 1,102.
The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care also fell from a record of 121 down to 116, though the overall number of coronavirus hospitalizations increased to 377. That's just a few patients shy of the provincial high of 381 hospitalizations reported on Jan. 6.
The increasing toll on B.C.'s health-care facilities recently forced the government to divert some staff away from surgery rooms, resulting in a handful of delayed operations.
Health workers have also administered another 36,892 doses of vaccine since the last update, for a provincial total of 1,148,993 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines.
That includes 1,051,208 first doses – enough to protect nearly 21 per cent of B.C.'s population – and 87,785 second doses.
Earlier on Tuesday, Canada reports its first case of blood clotting linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, in a Quebec woman. Extremely rare instances of blood clotting have been reported previously in other parts of the world, prompting B.C. officials to put the use of AstraZeneca on hold for anyone under the age of 55 while they await further guidance.
Health officials have continued to stress that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, and that their benefits far outweigh their risks. Henry has previously noted that the risk of blood clotting related to catching the novel coronavirus is significantly higher than that associated with any of the vaccines.
Asked about the AstraZeneca vaccine on Tuesday, B.C. Premier John Horgan said he would have "no hesitation whatsoever" if given the chance to receive the shot. Horgan said he has yet to be immunized because he's waiting his turn.
Anyone who is 65 and older, Indigenous peoples 18 and over, are anyone who has received a letter deeming them "clinically extremely vulnerable" are currently eligible to be vaccinated in B.C. People 55-65 can also book appointments to received AstraZeneca through pharmacies across the province.
In addition, health officials have been mass-vaccinating COVID-19 hotspots and workplaces that have had challenging outbreaks in the hopes of getting the province's rate of transmission under control – including by offering vaccine to everyone living in Whistler.
"We are systematically working through the immunization of our first responders, school staff and child care workers in these communities, and in the coming weeks will expand into more communities as vaccine supplies allow," Henry and Dix said.
“We are also steadily progressing through our age-based program, because we know it is those who are older who are most likely to have severe illness requiring care in hospital."