On the same day that BC health officials announced they were easing restrictions around long-term care homes and indoor religious gatherings, they also confirmed the highest one-day number of new COVID-19 cases in the province this year.
During a press conference, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry acknowledged BC is “definitely seeing an upward trend in cases,” and attempted to lay out her reasoning behind the decision to ease some restrictions amid this current reality.
“It’s not about easing restrictions as much as recognizing that at this phase in the pandemic, we need to focus on those things that we can do safely,” she said. “We know – and we’ve learned through the past year – that things that are done outside are much safer than things that are done inside.”
And as people continue to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, “that’s what we need to focus on for the next little while to get us through these next few months.”
Stressing the effectiveness of the vaccines that are currently available, Henry said this also gives some leeway “to be able to have some activities – particularly outside – that are safer.”
Earlier this month, BC also announced that outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are now allowed.
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On Thursday, the ministry of health confirmed 800 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the province to 94,769, and marking the highest one-day case increase this year.
There are 5,856 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 9,964 people under public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases.
Of the active cases, 306 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 79 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.
There have been five new COVID-19-related deaths, for a total of 1,446 deaths in British Columbia.
There have been 191 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in the province, for a total of 1,772 cases. Of the total cases, 215 are active and the remaining people have recovered. This includes 1,549 cases of the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant, 47 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 176 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.
A further 87,351 people who tested positive have recovered.
To date, 610,671 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-SII COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in BC, 87,212 of which are second doses. Vaccine appointment bookings are now open for people 75 or older, and Indigenous peoples over age 55.
“We have also seen a notable spike in the number of new cases, especially amongst those 19 to 39 years of age,” the statement said. “This tells us some people are taking on more risk for themselves and their loved ones than what is safe right now.”
And until everyone “has been protected with immunization, our protective layers must be the first and last thing we think about – whether at home, work, school or elsewhere.”