B.C. sets new record, with 1,293 new COVID-19 cases over past 24 hours

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has also issued a new public health order, granting more power to WorksafeBC inspectors to shutter workplaces where transmission is happening

A record number of new cases of COVID-19 has been reported in B.C., with 1,293 new cases over the past 24 hours.

Of the new cases, 80 are in the Interior Health region.

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Elsewhere in the province, there were 448 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 645 in Fraser Health, 69 in Vancouver Island Health and 51 in Northern Health.

Active case counts continue to edge upwards, now up to 9,184 as of Thursday.

Hospitalization numbers are up, as well, with 336 in hospital and 101 of those patients requiring critical care.

Another 15,203 people are under active public health monitoring.

Two further deaths have also been reported, pushing the province's death toll to 1,493.

Changes to testing with variants of concern

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said a change is coming to how variants of concern are identified by the province.

Initially, positive tests were screened for known mutations and then confirmed via whole genome sequencing — a process that can take up to a week.

Now, the province will use its whole genome sequencing capacity for surveillance of other strains to be on the look out for, and screenings that show known mutations for existing variants of concern will be assumed to be that variant.

New health order

Henry also issued a new health order on Thursday that affords more power to WorksafeBC.

The expedited workplace closure order will allow WorksafeBC inspectors to serve closure notices and shut down workplaces where transmission is occurring.

Henry said she realizes some workplaces, such as police stations, fire halls, health care facilities, pharmacies and other places cannot close, and the order will also provide extra resources to support those places should cases emerge.

Survey launched

Henry also announced a new survey, to be conducted by the BCCDC. The survey is an updated version of what British Columbians completed — in record numbers — about one year ago.

The SPEAK Round 2 survey will be available online at bccdc.ca.

Vaccinations continue

Health Minister Adrian Dix provided an update on the number of vaccine doses received and administered, as well.

To date, the province has received 888,810 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and has administered 750,052 of those doses.

For Moderna, 248,900 doses have been received by the province, 80,000 of which came in since April 3. Those doses were expected March 22, but arrived over Easter weekend instead.

Another 105,900 were expected to arrive this week, but are also delayed.

Dix said supply issues are all that's holding up getting shots in arms.

"We are capable, able and are delivering vaccine at a rapid rate here in B.C. The only thing constraining that is the amount of vaccine we have," Dix said.

Astrazeneca vaccine doses, which were initially slated for essential workers, have been put on pause and repurposed for those ages 55 to 65, to be given through pharmacies. That program is currently only available in the Lower Mainland, but expansion into the Interior and other areas is planned for this week.

To date, the province has taken in 265,800 doses of Astrazeneca, with 180,000 doses arriving at the end of last week.

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