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B.C. reports 508 new COVID-19 cases and 6 deaths, updates vaccine timeline

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Deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson reports 508 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, Feb. 19, and six additional related deaths in the last 24-hours. – Feb 19, 2021

B.C. health officials reported 508 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and six additional deaths, while offering new details on the plan to vaccinate the province’s elderly.

In a live briefing, deputy provincial health officer Dr. Reka Gustafson said it left the province with 4,486 active cases.

Another 7,699 people were isolating due to potential exposure.

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Of the new cases, 116 were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 286 were in the Fraser Health region, 22 were in the Vancouver Island Health region, 59 were in the Interior Health region and 25 were in the Northern Health region.

Within the Fraser Health region, Health Minister Adrian Dix said that new hotspots had cropped up in Abbotsford and the Tri-Cities area.

Move slider to see week-to-week difference in COVID-19 cases by local health area

“What it tells us is that COVID-19 is everywhere, whether you’re in Prince Rupert or the Tri-Cities, it makes no sense now to go in person to do karaoke,” he said.

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“It makes no sense now when you can do it virtually to have a trivia event with other people.”

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B.C. has recorded 72 cases of COVID-19 variants, of which were the B.1.1.7 variant first reported in the U.K. and 20 were the B.1.351 variant first reported in South Africa.

There were 217 people in hospital, a drop of nine overnight and the fewest since Nov. 18. Sixty-one people were in critical or intensive care.

Click to play video: 'New data on effectiveness of single COVID-19 vaccine dose' New data on effectiveness of single COVID-19 vaccine dose
New data on effectiveness of single COVID-19 vaccine dose – Feb 18, 2021

Vaccine effort ramps up

On Thursday, B.C. administered 12,250 doses of vaccine, its highest-ever single-day immunization.

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The province has administered 192,942 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, of which 36,923 were second doses.

Dix said that B.C. had received about 45,000 doses of vaccine this week, calculated at five doses per vial, and was expecting a similar shipment next week.

“This is very good news, because with every individual that is protected through vaccination we are all safer,” Gustafson said.

“The evidence from the immunization of our elders and seniors living in long-term care facilities is actually very encouraging. We are seeing a decline in outbreaks and and … a local assessment of effectiveness has shown us that there’s substantial protection in the frail elderly from vaccination.”

Dix also revealed new details about the mass vaccination of seniors over the age of 80.

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Elders with connection to home care support should see their vaccine between March 1 and March 15. Elders not linked to the health-care system in such a manner should be vaccinated between March 15 and March 31.

The province was still on track to vaccinate about 10 per cent of B.C.’s population by the end of March, barring other disruptions in vaccine supply, he said.

“Obviously we would like to have more vaccine. The only issue holding back the immunization campaign ever at this case is supply.”

About 92 per cent of B.C.’s 75,835 cases have recovered, while 1,327 people have died.

Earlier Friday, the federal government said it was extending a number of emergency COVID-19 benefits.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Canada Recovery Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit were each being topped up by 12 weeks, and adding 24 weeks to EI availability.

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