The COVID-19 pandemic continued to set records this past week with a surge of new cases in B.C.
Friday marked the third straight day of unprecedented hospitalizations with 425 infected people admitted and 127 are in critical care.
Across the province, there were 1,007 new cases confirmed and six new deaths, bringing B.C.’s death count to 1,530.
The majority of the new cases from Thursday to Friday were in the Lower Mainland with 536 in the Fraser Health region and 259 in Vancouver Coastal. Northern Health reported 51 new cases, while there were 110 in Interior Health and 49 in Island Health.
Despite a public health which restricts outdoor gathering to no more than 10 people, hundreds gathered Friday night at Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver in what is being described as a “dance festival.” The Vancouver Sun reported there was no police presence to try to break up the crowd. That happened on a day in which Ontario banned all outdoor gatherings to try to fight the rising infection rates.
“Spending time outside is important for our physical and mental well-being. But we have to remember that while being outside with others is much lower risk than being inside, it is not without risk,” said B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minster Adrian Dix, in a joint statement.
“Even if we are outside, we need to stay small and continue to use our layers of protection. This means keeping a safe distance and wearing masks, especially if someone is higher risk for serious illness. Be purposeful about who you are seeing and where you are going, and stick with the same close contacts.
“If you choose to see a close friend for brunch on a patio, then make sure it is the same friend every time. If you decide to have a barbecue in your backyard, then keep to your roommates or family only. Or, if you visit your neighbourhood park with another family, then make it with only one other family and do activities that allow everyone to keep a safe distance from each other.”
Of the 10,081 active cases, 212 are confirmed variants of the COVID-19 virus. The province has had 7,739 cases tied to the variant strains, including 3,858 of the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7) variant, 1,810 cases of the Brazilian (P.1) variant and 71 of the South African (B.1.351) variant.
A total of 1,282,091 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-SII COVID-19 vaccines have already been administered, 87,970 of which are second doses.
Northern Health is now accepting online registration for everybody 45 years and older. In Prince George, appointments are now being booked for people aged 63 and older and all indigenous adults. The vaccine clinic for people with appointments is at the Prince George Conference and Civic Centre, 808 Canada Games Way. Go to the website getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca for registration and appointments. For those without a health number, call 1-833-838-2323.
Pharmacies are administering the AstraZeneca vaccine for adults aged 55-65. Bookings are made through their websites and people can find out where to go by calling each participating pharmacy.