By BC Gov News

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the COVID-19 response in British Columbia:

“Today, we are reporting 569 new cases, including three epi-linked cases, for a total of 86,219 cases in British Columbia.

“There are 4,912 active cases of COVID-19 in the province with 8,989 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases. A further 79,829 people who tested positive have recovered.

“Of the active cases, 244 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 68 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.

“Since we last reported, we have had 140 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 301 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 41 in the Island Health region, 26 in the Interior Health region, 60 in the Northern Health region and one new case of a person who resides outside of Canada.

“There have been 11 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in our province, for a total of 638 cases. Of the total cases, 89 are active. The remaining people have recovered. This includes 588 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, 36 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 14 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.

“To date, 366,791 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 87,009 of which are second doses. Vaccine appointment bookings are open for people over 85 and Indigenous people over 65.

“There have been three new COVID-19 related deaths in the last 24 hours, for a total of 1,397 deaths in British Columbia.

“There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks.

“Today’s modelling shows us how the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed in the province over the past year. What we have seen very clearly is no one is immune to the virus or the impacts that come with it. The pandemic is still very much with us.

“The most effective tools we had to control the spread of the virus have been the public health restrictions combined with your individual efforts.

“Your personal and collective actions – washing your hands, staying home when ill, wearing masks, giving others the space to stay safe, staying apart from friends and family, and following the public health orders and restrictions – have made a significant difference.

“We now have another very powerful means to push back on the virus – safe and effective vaccines. With each day that more people are immunized, our shared protection increases.

“We are progressing, but we are not yet in a place where any of us can let go of the headway we have made. So, as much as we all want to take a step back, we need to continue to push forward.

“Where we can do things more safely is outside. As a result, the provincial health officer (PHO) order on gatherings and events has been amended to allow for outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people.

“Should you choose to meet with your family and friends, remember that safety needs to continue to be top of mind and the requirement to follow all COVID-19 safety plans remains in place – at work or school, when we are out for dinner or going to the grocery store.

“There are no changes to the current restrictions on indoor gatherings – in our homes or elsewhere. The requirements for restaurants and bars also continue. This is a slow turning of the dial.

“St. Patrick’s Day is next week, a day when we often gather with friends. While we can now enjoy the day in a small group outside, the PHO order on food and liquor establishments is being amended to restrict alcohol sales as they were on New Year’s Eve.

“Our recipe and our plan for the next few weeks is straightforward: Keep using our layers of protection and following the orders and restrictions. If you are seeing others, stay small and it must be outside. ‘Few faces, open spaces and safety layers in place’ are what we need to put COVID-19 behind us.”