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B.C. surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 deaths as province adds 1,475 new cases

Click to play video 'B.C. reports 1,475 new cases over three day reporting period, additional 22 deaths' B.C. reports 1,475 new cases over three day reporting period, additional 22 deaths
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reports 1,475 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, Jan. 11, and 22 additional deaths over the weekend. Henry has an update on the active coronavirus outbreaks in B.C. long-term care and assisted living residences.

British Columbia’s death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 1,000, marking the latest grim milestone for a pandemic that continues to rage across the province.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced on Monday that 22 more people had died from the disease since Friday, bringing the total since March to 1,010.

Read more: B.C. to receive 80K COVID-19 vaccine doses per week by February, feds project

“These of course are our grandparents, our friends, our aunts, our uncles, our sons and daughters,” Henry said. “We know that this has been a challenging time.”

The weekend also saw 1,475 new cases confirmed in B.C. — 538 on Saturday, 507 on Sunday and another 430 on Monday. Nine of those cases are epidemiologically linked, meaning they have not been confirmed by laboratory testing.

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Click to play video 'Coronavirus: St. Paul’s outbreak, provincial mortality rates' Coronavirus: St. Paul’s outbreak, provincial mortality rates
Coronavirus: St. Paul’s outbreak, provincial mortality rates

The number of active cases fell by nearly 1,000 to 5,220, Henry said. Of those, 358 were in hospital, a number unchanged from Friday. Three patients were able to leave intensive care during the weekend, bringing that number down to 72.

About 87 per cent of the province’s 58,107 total cases have recovered since the pandemic began.

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Six new outbreaks were declared at long-term care and group homes, while another four were declared over — including at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

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Henry on Thursday extended the province’s restrictions on social gatherings to Feb. 5, saying the curve of the outbreak is trending up again.

While the weekend’s case numbers showed that bend may be turning downwards again, Henry said it’s important people continue following the guidelines.

Click to play video 'B.C. officials look for ‘maximum distribution while balancing the supply’ of COVID-19 vaccine' B.C. officials look for ‘maximum distribution while balancing the supply’ of COVID-19 vaccine
B.C. officials look for ‘maximum distribution while balancing the supply’ of COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine rollout further explained

The province’s top doctor also further explained why she’s recommending British Columbians get their second vaccine dose 35 days after their first, rather than the two-to-three weeks recommended by Pfizer and Moderna.

Henry said the first dose of a vaccine for COVID-19 gives “amazing” immunity, so the government’s decision to allow for a 35-day gap before the second dose is administered is rooted in science.

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She said the decision to delay the second shot is about maximizing the vaccines’ distribution, while balancing the supply and making sure the province has a safe and effective immunization program.

Henry said protection from COVID-19 two weeks after the first dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines was over 92 per cent.

“That is, quite frankly, amazing from a public health perspective looking at an immunization program,” Henry said. “What we’re learning is that the short-term protection is achieved rapidly, and it’s very high.”

Click to play video 'Angus Reid: Majority of Canadians eager to be vaccinated' Angus Reid: Majority of Canadians eager to be vaccinated
Angus Reid: Majority of Canadians eager to be vaccinated

Health officials are also watching closely how effective the vaccine is when the time between doses is extended.

“Is there an issue between the six weeks and 12 weeks, for example?” Henry said.

“We’ll be monitoring and changing our program if needed, depending on how much vaccines we have, and what we’ve learned about the effectiveness of the booster.”

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Henry also said about a 70 per cent herd immunity can help prevent transmission in most cases. Although it may not prevent some super-spreader events, it could be enough to stop widespread community transmission, she added.

With files from the Canadian Press