COVID-19 update: B.C. reports 531 new infections, another 51 confirmed variant cases
VANCOUVER -- Health officials in British Columbia announced 531 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, and confirmed another 51 cases involving variants of concern.
The province has now recorded a total of 85,650 cases since the start of the pandemic, 627 of which are known to have involved one of three COVID-19 variants that have caused some alarm among health officials.
The B.1.1.7 variant associated with the U.K. remains the most common, making up 580 of B.C.'s cases, and there have now been 33 cases involving the B.1.351 variant discovered in South Africa and 14 involving the P.1 variant associated with Brazil.
In a joint written statement, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said 109 of the variant cases remain active and "the remaining people have recovered."
Earlier this month, Henry indicated that two recent deaths from COVID-19 involved variants.
There have been concerns that P.1 can impact antibodies from previous infections, allowing people to catch COVID-19 again, though a recent laboratory study found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine capable of neutralizing the variant.
B.C. health officials also announced one more death from COVID-19, bringing the provincial death toll to 1,394. That's significantly lower than the average of four deaths per day recorded over the last two weeks.
There are now 4,861 active cases across the province with 244 people in hospital, 66 of whom are in intensive care. Everyone else with a confirmed COVID-19 case is recovering at home, officials said.
The province has administered another 11,959 doses of COVID-19 vaccine since the last update on Tuesday, for a total of 355,340 doses, including 86,960 second doses. Henry and Dix also noted that B.C. is beginning to receive shipments of the AstraZeneca – SII Covishield vaccine, which officials are planning to use to address community outbreaks and to immunize some first responders and essential workers.
"This additional vaccine supply will be used to supplement our age-based province-wide immunization program," they said.
"What is important for all of us to remember is that with every outbreak that is quickly managed and every worker who is immunized, all of us have increased protection. With each person who is immunized, it means our friends and loved ones are safer and we are all closer to putting COVID-19 behind us."
B.C. health officials are still determining which industries will be given AstraZeneca vaccine, but said plans will be finalized around March 18.