B.C. has recorded 1,330 new cases of COVID-19 and 31 deaths in the province over a three day period.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provided the update Monday in a news conference, saying there were 584 new cases recorded between Friday and Saturday, 445 new cases between Saturday and Sunday, and 301 new cases between Sunday and Monday.
The Sunday-Monday case jump of 301 new cases represents the lowest level of one-day growth since Nov. 3, with active cases of the virus now at their lowest level since Nov. 7. Restrictions were first implemented for some health regions in B.C. on Nov. 8.
“Clearly the things we are doing in our community are working,” said Henry, adding that outbreaks continue in essential workplaces and in long-term care homes.
“We are at a tipping point that I am feeling hopeful and positive about. I am hopeful that outbreaks are slowing down and we are stopping that second generation.”
There are currently 4,326 active cases of the virus in B.C., with 343 people in hospital, 68 of whom are in critical care. Thirteen of the new cases are associated with temporary farm workers who have come to B.C. for work.
An outbreak at McKinney Place, the deadliest outbreak in Interior Health, has been declared over.
Long-term care home vaccinations
As of Monday, 87,346 people in B.C. had received at least one dose of vaccine. Henry said that the province will soon finish vaccinating all residents of long-term care homes in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions, and is on track to complete vaccinations in all long-term care homes by end of next week depending on when vaccine arrives.
The federal government on Friday announced Pfizer is temporarily reducing shipments of its vaccine in order to expand manufacturing capacity at a facility in Belgium. This means fewer shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine until at least March.
Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Reka Gustafson said the change was not surprising and it is something health officials have planned for.
“In a worldwide vaccination campaign, we expect fluctuations in supply and we are prepared to change our vaccination campaign to respond.”
Henry said on Monday that the delay is a “setback” and will temporarily slow the province’s delivery of the vaccine to at-risk people.
But she said the province is working to ensure the highest number of people are immunized.
“We have been able to rearrange and look at processes that we have to make sure we are continuing to give first doses to those at highest risk and that we get second doses to people at Day 35,” she said.
“The focus will be on second doses next week and the week after and then going back to first doses for those at risk.”
Henry added that the province will be providing more first doses of the vaccine in March than originally planned, with second doses being pushed to later in March when supply increases.
“[The delay] is a matter of weeks … not months. We knew these types of things could happen, so we’re trying to have some flexibility,” she said.
Henry said that while B.C.’s numbers continue to slowly trend in the right direction, the risk of transmission remains high in all areas of the province.
“The challenges that we are facing now concern more transmission in the Interior and North,” she said.
Dix acknowledged this week marks one year since the province began issuing daily updates on the virus.
“It’s been a long year,” he said. “One year later, thank you.”