B.C.'s active case count continues to fall as province marks grim milestone

The province has marked yet another grim COVID-19 milestone, passing 1,000 deaths with 22 more dead over the weekend.

The number of active cases in the province, however, continues to fall — down to 5,220 on Monday.

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Another 1,475 new cases of COVID-19 were reported over three reporting periods over the weekend, including 538 on Saturday, 507 on Sunday and 430 on Monday.

Interior Health says two of the deaths reported Monday occurred in the region. Both were in long-term care homes, at Heritage Square in Vernon and McKinney Place in Oliver — each have ongoing oubreaks. A total of 40 people have now died due to COVID-19 in the region.

The province has now seen 58,107 total cases since the pandemic began. Of those, 50,541 have recovered and 1,010 have died.

There are now 358 patients in B.C. hospitals, including 72 in critical care.

Another 7,313 are under active public health monitoring due to exposure to confirmed cases.

By health region, there were 287 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 736 in Fraser Health, 59 in Vancouver Island Health, 217 in Interior Health, 173 in Northern Health and three cases among those who reside outside Canada.

On the vaccine front, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province has now adminstered 59,902 of the 71,200 doses available.

Second doses will be given 35 days after the first — a decision Henry defended on Monday.

Henry said the decision to prolong the period between vaccinations to 35 days is a science-based decision based on the limited number of vaccines available to the province.

After one dose, Henry said clinical trials show 92.6 per cent effectiveness after one dose of the Pfizer vaccine and 92.1 per cent for the Moderna vaccine.

"That is, quite frankly, amazing, from a public health perspective looking at an immunization program," she said.

Those figures increase to 94.8 per cent for Pfizer and 95.2 per cent for Moderna after a second dose.

"What we've learned is that the short-term protection is achieved rapidly and is very high," Henry said, also noting that some groups have already recommended extending the time between doses to 42 days.

"So what you can see is that the data from the clinical trials shows that we have early, sustained, high response that lasts for at least eight weeks," she said.

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