COVID-19 update: B.C. reports 849 cases as hospitalizations break records again
VANCOUVER -- B.C. health officials announced 849 new cases of COVID-19 and one related death on Tuesday, along with another record-breaking number of hospitalizations.
There are now 456 people battling the disease in hospital, up from the previous record of 411 announced on Monday. That includes a record 148 patients in intensive care.
In a joint written statement, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix urged the public to follow all COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines to avoid putting more strain on the health-care system.
"At the current rates of transmission, our health-care workers and hospitals are getting pushed to the limits to support the many people with COVID-19 who require care," they said.
"We are taking steps to reduce this pressure and we need everyone in B.C. to do the same."
Rising numbers of coronavirus patients in hospital have already forced the government to strategically delay some scheduled non-emergency surgeries in the Lower Mainland.
B.C. has now recorded a total of 120,889 infections and 1,539 related deaths since the start of the pandemic. On Monday, officials revealed a toddler under the age of two has become the youngest person to die from COVID-19 in the province.
Another 307 cases involving variants of concern have been confirmed as well, bringing the provincial total to 6,179. Only 163 remain active, Henry and Dix said.
B.C.'s active caseload and the seven-day average for identified cases have been slowly trending downward in recent days, which health officials have said is a sign their current public health orders are working. All existing COVID-19 measures have been extended through the May long weekend, and the government is planning to introduce a new restriction limiting travel between health authority regions on Friday.
There are now 9,145 active cases of COVID-19 across B.C., down from a high of 10,081 on April 16, while the weekly average has dipped to 1,026 cases per day, down from a high of 1,130 on April 12.
The province's immunization program is also continuing at its accelerated pace. Another 34,484 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered since Monday's update, for a total of 1,414,644.
That includes 1,326,381 first doses – enough to protect about 26 per cent of the provincial population – and 88,263 second doses.
This week, the government expanded eligibility for the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone 40 years old and older. All British Columbians who are 35 and up are also encouraged to register for their vaccination.
Officials are hoping to have 60 per cent of eligible adults vaccinated by the end of May, and that increasing vaccinations will help bring the pandemic under control once again in time for summer – but Henry and Dix said everyone needs to do their part in the meantime.
That means only seeing friends and family members outside, and only in small and consistent groups of 10 people at most. British Columbians can be fined $2,300 for hosting a social gathering indoors, and guests can face hundreds of dollars in fines as well.
"We will get through this pandemic. As we have done before, we will do this by working together. Let’s do all we can now so we can enjoy a different summer," Henry and Dix said.