COVID-19 update: B.C. reports 682 cases as rolling average continues to climb
VANCOUVER -- British Columbia has recorded another 682 cases of COVID-19 and one related death, health officials announced Tuesday.
The latest identified infections pushed the province's rolling weekly average to 617 cases per day, continuing a slow and steady surge that's been observed for weeks.
In a joint written statement, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix urged residents to continue following COVID-19 restrictions as the government works to vaccinate residents as quickly as possible.
"While we are immunizing more people every day, and in parallel slowly turning the dial on the restrictions we have in place, we must remember the risk for all of us remains high, particularly with indoor activities - whether for work or social reasons," they said.
"To get through this storm and continue to protect our loved ones, we must all continue to use our safety layers and follow all of the public health restrictions we have in place."
Another 18,100 doses of vaccine have been administered since the last update on Monday, for a total of 557,508. That includes 470,340 first doses – enough to immunize about nine per cent of B.C.'s population – and 87,168 second doses.
Officials said British Columbians who are deemed clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, such as people who are battling cancer, are being notified by letter that they are eligible to receive a vaccine earlier than they would under the age-based program. Those individuals will be able to book an appointment beginning on Monday.
Henry and Dix also announced another 144 confirmed cases of COVID-19 involving variants of concern, bringing the province's total to 1,510. The B.1.1.7 variant associated with the U.K. remains the most common by far, making up 1,357 of the cases, but the P.1 variant associated with Brazil has been quickly increasing in numbers. There are now 110 cases of the P.1 variant, up from 34 last Tuesday.
As overall infection numbers increase, so has the province's active caseload, which reached 5,409 on Tuesday, the highest it's been since early January. That includes 314 people in hospital, 83 of whom are in intensive care.
During her pandemic briefing on Monday, Henry cautioned that the current level of transmission puts B.C. at risk of a sudden increase in cases.
"We're at a high level – a level that keeps me awake at night, for sure," Henry said.
While officials are working on easing some of the province's current restrictions, which residents have been living under since November, Henry has warned the public not to expect any major changes for months barring a major change in circumstances.
On Tuesday, officials did announce amended rules for outdoor religious gatherings, the details of which are expected to be posted on the government's COVID-19 website.
“Worship service organizers must ensure COVID-19 safety plans are in place for all outdoor services and all attendees follow those plans," Henry and Dix said in their joint statement.
There were no new outbreaks declared Tuesday and the ones at Revera Sunwood Retirement Community and the Bruce Jack Mine have ended.
A total of 86,307 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C. have recovered, representing about 93 per cent of the province's total.