COVID-19 surging in B.C., as province reports 800 new cases in a day

Click to play video: 'B.C. records highest daily case count since early December'
B.C. records highest daily case count since early December
News today of the relaxing of some restrictions comes as British Columbia hits its highest daily COVID-19 case number since late 2020. Keith Baldrey has the latest. – Mar 25, 2021

New cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in British Columbia, where the province announced 800 new cases on Thursday along with five more deaths.

It’s the highest single-day total since Dec. 2, and pushed the seven-day rolling average for new cases to 674.

In a written statement, health officials said 264 of the new cases were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 381 were in the Fraser Health region, 45 were in the Island Health region, 50 were in the Interior Health region and 58 were in the Northern Health region.

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Active cases also climbed again to 5,856, while the number of people isolating due to exposure reached just under 10,000.

B.C. identified another 191 new cases of COVID-19 variants of concern, for a total of 1,772. Two-hundred and fifteen of those cases remained active.

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Since last Thursday, the total number of cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the U.K., have grown by 50 per cent, while the number of cases of the P.1 variant first identified in Brazil have more than tripled.

“The bottom line with the variants is they are replacing and taking over the other virus strains that we have seen over the last little while,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at a briefing earlier in the day.

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The U.K. variant still accounts for the vast majority of B.C.’s variant cases, and Henry said it is both more contagious, and that some research now suggested it could cause increased severity of illness in younger people.

“We are concerned about that,” she said.

“We’ve ramped up our capacity for screening. And as you know now, most almost all of our cases every day are screened for mutations of interest that might be one of these variants of concern

There were 306 people in hospital, 79 of whom were in critical or intensive care. The province also declared a new outbreak at the Chilliwack General Hospital.

There was, however, positive news Thursday, as the province said it had administered more than 28,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the preceding 24 hours.

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A total of 523,459 B.C. residents have now had at least one dose of vaccine, just over 10 per cent of the province’s population. Of those, 82,212 people have also had the second booster shot.

B.C. has recorded a total of 94,769 cases since the pandemic began, while 1,446 people have died.

Earlier Thursday, the province announced it was easing restrictions on visitation to long-term care and assisted-living facilities, now that most residents, staff and essential visitors have been vaccinated against the virus.

The province also announced that it would permit limited indoor, in-person religious gatherings on select days between March 28 and April 13 to accommodate upcoming major religious holidays.

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