B.C.'s COVID-19 death count stays low, as vaccination roll-out stays slow

Two new deaths from the virus were identified overnight after one such death was recorded yesterday

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Bonnie Henry provide an update on COVID-19 in B.C. | BC government

Health officials identified two people who died from COVID-19-related causes overnight, after one such death was recorded the day before. While that raises the province's death toll from the virus to 1,338, the three deaths in two days is the lowest two-day total since November 5 and 6, when there were two COVID-19-related deaths identified. 

This good news is partly because 98% of seniors in care homes have been vaccinated, provincial health officer Bonnie Henry told media yesterday. She called the success of the vaccine in older people "miraculous."

Nonetheless, B.C.'s roll-out of vaccines continues to be slow, with only 6,521 doses being administered in the past 24 hours. There were 2,809 additional people who got a vaccine dose in the past 24 hours, and 3,712 doses went to people as a second dose. 

In total, 230,875 doses have been given to 168267 people, with 62,608 people getting second doses. Starting in March, if around four million eligible British Columbians remain unvaccinated, the province would have to vaccinate about 19,000 people per day in order for all of them to be vaccinated by the end of September. 

"Just as our health-care system has risen to the challenge of protecting and caring for people who have become ill with this virus, so too are countless others working hard to get people immunized as quickly and safely as possible," Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement. 

"Vaccinating our entire population is a monumental task that must account for the diversity of our geography and our population. We must consider how to safely deliver vaccine to rural and remote communities, how to connect with seniors and elders everywhere, and how to ensure the process to get immunized is as simple as possible. We are pushing hard right now, and we must continue to balance speed with the need for careful thought and planning."

There were 456 newly identified infections in the past day, down by 103 from yesterday. A total of 78,278 people in B.C. have contracted the virus since officials detected the first case on January 28, 2020.

The vast majority of the 4,668 people actively battling infections have been told to self-isolate, although 237 are in hospital, with 64 of those inflicted seriously enough to be in intensive care units. 

More than 92.2% of those infected in B.C., or 72,219 individuals, are considered to have recovered because they have tested negative for the virus twice. Another 7,924 people are being closely watched by health officials for symptoms because they have had known exposure to at least one identified case.

Here is the breakdown of where the 456 new cases are located:
• 108 in Vancouver Coastal Health (23.6%);
• 259 in Fraser Health (56.7%);
• 35 in Island Health (7.6%);
• 30 in Interior Health (6.5%);
• 20 in Northern Health (4.4%); and
• four people who regularly reside outside Canada.

There were no new healthcare facility outbreaks in the past day, according to Henry.

The outbreak at the seniors' home Creekside Landing in Vernon has been declared over, Henry and Dix said. 

The number of outbreaks at seniors' homes has dwindled significantly since January, when there were more than 50 outbreaks for much of the month. 

There are now only 11 outbreaks at those homes, with none of those being in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. 

The five active outbreaks at seniors' living facilities in Fraser Health are:
• CareLife Fleetwood in Surrey;
• Fleetwood Villa in Surrey;
• George Derby Centre in Burnaby;
• Royal City Manor in New Westminster; and
• Shaughnessy Care Centre in Port Coquitlam.

Two outbreaks at seniors' homes in Nanaimo – Eden Gardens and Wexford Creek – are the only ones in the Island Health region.

The outbreak at the Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert is the only active outbreak in Northern Health. 

The three active outbreaks at seniors' living facilities in Interior Health are at:
• Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre in Kamloops;
• Noric House in Vernon; and
• The Florentine in Merritt.

The list of B.C. hospitals with active COVID-19 outbreaks includes:
• Burnaby General Hospital in Burnaby;
• Dawson Creek and District Hospital in Dawson Creek;
• Kelowna General Hospital in Kelowna;
• Mission Memorial Hospital in MIssion;
• St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver; and
• Vancouver General Hospital.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom