B.C. records 277 new cases of COVID-19 and 4 more deaths over the weekend
On Monday, B.C. health officials announced 277 new cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths over the last three days, hours after they held a press conference to tell British Columbians the province is on track for the second step of its reopening plan.
That's an average of 92 new cases a day confirmed this weekend, marking a continued and significant downward trend in B.C.'s caseload. A total of 68 cases have been reported in the last 24 hours — the lowest one-day total since Sept. 26.
In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are currently 1,537 active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C., the smallest active caseload since Oct. 16.
"Today, the details of Step 2 in our B.C.'s Restart plan were provided. As Premier John Horgan shared, we are moving slowly and cautiously, closely watching community transmission and our rates of immunization to ensure we have the confidence to safely increase our social connections," Henry and Dix said.
A total of 136 people are now in hospital, including 42 in intensive care.
Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are down by nearly 32 per cent from last Monday, when 199 people were in hospital with the disease.
The number of patients in intensive care is down by about 33 per cent from 63 a week ago
The provincial death toll from the disease is now 1,734 lives lost out of 146,453 confirmed cases.
So far, 4,048,346 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 613,453 second doses. The percentage of adults who've received their first shot now stands at 75.9 per cent, while 74.1 per cent of those over the age of 12 have gotten the jab.
Outbreaks have been declared over at Richmond Hospital, Richmond Lions Manor Bridgeport and the Iqra Islamic school in Surrey.Stepping into Step 2
Henry and Dix joined Premier John Horgan and other government officials Monday morning to announce Step 2 will begin Tuesday, as hoped, since case counts and hospitalizations have steadily dropped in recent weeks while vaccinations rose.
Under Step 2, the following will be allowed:
- Recreational travel across B.C.
- Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people.
- Organized indoor gatherings of up to 50 people, in places like movie theatres or banquet halls.
- Indoor team sports and fitness classes.
- Indoor faith gatherings with up to 50 people, or 10 per cent of the building's total capacity, whichever is greater.
- Alcohol service at restaurants, bars and pubs until midnight.
Masks and physical distancing are still mandatory. Personal indoor gatherings must remain small: just one additional household or five other people.
Horgan asked Canadians outside the province who do not have official business in B.C. to stay home for the time being.
"We are going to welcome you down the road, but not today," said the premier.
In their written statement, Henry and Dix called on British Columbians to check ahead before travelling within the province to make sure they will be welcome.
"Our progress is a shared effort, which means respecting that some of those around you may not be moving at the same pace as you," they said.Immunization still critical
The four-step reopening plan released last month said B.C. could move to Step 2 on June 15 if case counts and hospitalizations dropped, and if 65 per cent of eligible adults had received at least one dose of vaccine.
B.C. has handily beat that vaccination target, with nearly 76 per cent of adults receiving at least one dose, but Henry and Dix said their goal is still much higher.
"Our target immunization rate is 100% — to get as many people fully vaccinated as soon as we can — so please register and book your appointments as soon as you are eligible," they said.
Dix reiterated Monday the importance of getting as many people vaccinated as possible to stay on track to make it to Step 4 by September.
"It is critical that we continue the momentum," said Dix, reminding anyone who has not booked a shot to do so now.
British Columbians aged 12 and over can register in three ways: