Active COVID-19 cases rise sharply in central island region

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There are 108 active cases of COVID-19 in the Island Health region, including 64 reported over the last four days. That number includes 30 in the central island region, an increase of 14 since Thursday, along with 53 in the south and 25 in the north. There were 476 COVID-19 tests done in the Island Health region in the past 24 hours.

There are eight people hospitalized with the virus and two in ICU in Island Health, according to the B.C. government’s COVID-19 dashboard. One new virus related death was confirmed in the health region, bringing the total to 12. Island Health declared an outbreak at the Gardens long-term care home in Qualicum Beach over — one staff member tested positive, but no residents.

B.C. recorded 2,211 new COVID-19 cases over the last four days, including 539 reported today. There are 6,823 active cases of COVID-19 in the province — down 980 since Thursday. That number includes 351 people in hospital and 76 in critical care. There were 45 deaths from COVID-19 since Thursday, the majority were seniors in long-term care, according to Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. The province’s seven day rolling average for new cases is 537.

B.C. has vaccinated 27,348 people so far, including 2,009 in Island Health — the majority of those doses were Pfizer vaccines. Island Health has received 1,604 Moderna vaccines and the first doses were planned for today in five remote Indigenous clinics. 

The province hopes to vaccinate 150,000 people by February, according to Henry. About half of those doses are planned to go to residents and staff of long-term care facilities. The other half are intended for frontline healthcare staff, people in assisted living facilities, remote Indigenous communities and essential visitors to long-term care homes. 

“It’s a monumental task and there are many months left to go in this,” said Henry.

The next priority vaccination groups are seniors over 80 living in the community, Indigenous people, homeless people and people living in communal living settings, such as correctional facilities, group homes and mental health residential care, Henry said.

The provincial health authority has decided to delay the second vaccine dose to 35 days for most people.

Henry said the province was expecting an increased volume of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines beginning in March, as well as hopefully the approval of the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines soon.

Once the priority populations are immunized, mass vaccination will begin starting with people over 80 and then gradually down in age one five-year cohort at a time.

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