Active COVID-19 infections in B.C. at year high, as record number of new variant cases discovered

No new deaths from COVID-19, so B.C.'s death toll stays at 1,455

Health Minister Adrian Dix watches provincial health officer Bonnie Henry address media | Photo: B.C. government

A record daily total of 320 British Columbians just tested positive for a variant strain of COVID-19, according to data released March 30.

Some good news is that the number of people actively battling variant-strain infections has declined overnight by an even 100, to 313. 

This is important because mutant strains of the main COVID-19 virus are thought to spread more easily, and have been linked in B.C. to causing an increase in intensive care visits among younger people who have been admitted to hospital.  

No one has yet died from being infected with a variant strain of COVID-19 in B.C., as 2,240 of the total 2,553 people who have been infected with a variant strain of COVID-19 in B.C. have recovered, according to the B.C. government. 

Since the start of the pandemic, B.C. has identified 2,134 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the U.K., 370 cases of the P.1 variant first discovered in Brazil, and 49 cases of the B.1.351 strain first discovered in South Africa.

Health officials are most concerned about the P.1 variant because there is some doubt that vaccines will limit its spread. The P.1 variant is also by far the fastest growing strain, as there have been 100 new cases of it in the past day, and the 370 known cases today is more than 10 times the 34 cases that were identified two weeks ago. 

Overall, new COVID-19 infections remain elevated, with 840 new infections (including variants) detected in the past day.

A total of 7,062 people in B.C. are known to be actively fighting either the COVID-19 virus or one of its mutant strains – the highest number since December 31. The vast majority of those have been told to self-isolate, although 312 are in hospital and 78 are in intensive care units. 

No one is known to have lost their life to the virus in the past day, so the province's death toll from COVID-19 remains at 1,455.

Since the first infection was detected in the province on January 28, 2020, 99,035 people in B.C. have contracted the virus or its variant strains. Of those, more than 91.2%, or 90,401 people are deemed by the province to have recovered. 

Health officials are closely monitoring another 11,164 people for symptoms because they have had known contact with individuals identified as carrying the virus. That is the highest number since December 16.

Some good news this morning is that Pfizer changed its vaccine distribution schedule for Canada, and now plans to provide Canada with 9.6 million vaccine doses by June – five million more than had originally been expected

The number of people newly vaccinated in B.C. was 2,934 short of the record set March 25, when 28,005 new people received a dose of vaccine. Health officials provided 25,101 doses of vaccine in the past day to 25,071 new people, with 30 others getting needed second doses. 

Since the first vaccine dose was given in B.C., on December 16, health officials have provided 724,193 doses of vaccine to 636,874 people, with 87,319 of those getting needed second doses. 

B.C. health officials on average have vaccinated 6,123 new people per day in the 104 days since that first dose was provided.

There were no new outbreaks at healthcare facilities, and the outbreak at Oceana PARC in White Rock is no longer listed as active.

That means there are three outbreaks active at B.C. seniors' homes. They are:
• Fleetwood Place in Surrey;
• Longlake Chateau in Nanaimo; and
• Cottonwoods Care Centre in Kelowna.

The nine hospitals in B.C. with active outbreaks are:
• Abbotsford Regional Hospital;
• Chilliwack General Hospital;
• Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody;
• Kelowna General Hospital in Kelowna;
• Mission Memorial Hospital in Mission;
• Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge;
• Prince Rupert Regional Hospital in Prince Rupert;
• UBC Hospital in Vancouver, and
• Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom