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New COVID-19 cases in B.C. fall, as hospitalizations decline, 20 die

More than two million British Columbians have now had at least one dose of vaccine.
Bonnie with Horgan in mask
Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry speaks to media

New data show B.C. is seeing some success at controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, although the province recorded 20 new deaths over the past three days. 

Of those who died, 15 were aged older than 70, with one person in their 60s, two people in their 50s and two people in their 40s, according to provincial health officer Bonnie Henry.

Henry did not reveal the vaccination status of any of the people who died from COVID-19, but she stressed that having had one shot of vaccine does not make recipients completely immune from contracting the disease.

There were 1,759 new COVID-19 infections in the past three days, including 558 in the past day – the lowest daily total in more than seven weeks. On May 8 there were 596 new infections identified, while there were 605 new cases detected on May 9.

By health region, the 1,759 new infections include:
• 325 in Vancouver Coastal Health (18.5%);
• 1,201 in Fraser Health (68.3%);
• 50 in Island Health (2.8%);
• 131 in Interior Health (7.5%%); and
• 52 in Northern Health (3%).

Recoveries have been outpacing new infections, meaning fewer people are actively fighting COVID-19 infections than at any time since March 25: 6,140.

Most of those actively infected have been told to self-isolate, although 415 people are in hospital, and 150 are in intensive care units. The number of those now in hospital is 30 fewer than on May 7, when officials gave their previous update. 

Health Minister Adrian Dix said B.C. has 774 empty "base beds," which are standard hospital beds that were available before the pandemic. The province has added new hospital beds during the pandemic, and could shift resources to staff to those beds, called "surge beds," if needed. Dix said B.C. has 2,495 vacant surge beds. 

Of the 136,100 people who have been infected with COVID-19 since January, 2020, more than 94.1%, or 128,139 people, are deemed by health officials to have recovered. 

No data was provided to show the spread of what health officials call variants of concern. Henry has said in past briefings that full genome sequencing to determine the spread of variants of concern is not being conducted. Health officials instead, are doing some genome sequencing to determine reinfections, and what Henry has called "vaccine failures."

B.C.'s vaccination campaign is "rapidly accelerating," she said on May 10.

Another 116,661 doses of vaccine were provided in the past three days, with 110,064 of those being first doses, and 6,597 being second doses. The provincial record for most vaccine doses provided in a day was 52,266 to 50,054 people on May 6.

In total, health officials have provided 2,159,103 doses of vaccine to 2,053,045 people, with 106,058 of those individuals receiving both needed doses. The pace of providing second doses is set to accelerate next week, Henry said. 

As of "this evening," Henry said that those 40 years old, and older, will be eligible to book appointments to receive a dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine via the province's age-based vaccine roll-out. All people aged 18 years, and older, who live in high-risk areas are also eligible to book vaccine appointments, Henry said. 

The province's vaccination campaign via pharmacies has been stalled because of a shortage of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

One new outbreak of the virus has been reported at Sunrise Poultry in Surrey. 

Outbreaks have been declared over at Dufferin Care Centre in Coquitlam, and at Surrey Memorial Hospital. 

That leaves three outbreaks at long-term care homes in B.C.:
• Orchard Haven in Keremeos;
• Sandalwood Retirement Resort in Kelowna; and
• Spring Valley Care Centre in Kelowna.

The two B.C. hospitals with active COVID-19 outbreaks are Dawson Creek and District Hospital and Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom