Vancouver Island reports 37 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death ahead of new restrictions
Published Thursday, April 22, 2021 9:14AM PDT Last Updated Thursday, April 22, 2021 4:30PM PDT
VICTORIA -- British Columbia health officials identified 37 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Thursday.
The Vancouver Island region has now recorded 4,432 cases during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, 360 cases are currently active in the island region, including a record-breaking 32 people in hospital and four more in critical care.
Island Health identified the locations of 307 active cases Thursday, including 191 in the South Island, 84 in the Central Island and 32 in the North Island.
Four more people have died from the illness, health officials announced Thursday, bringing the province’s pandemic death toll to 1,550. One of the deaths was recorded on Vancouver Island, where the pandemic has now killed 34 people.
Health officials have now administered 1,500,430 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including 88,475 secondary doses.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Thursday that British Columbians aged 25 and older can now register for a vaccine through the province’s age-based program. On Friday, the registry will be open to all British Columbians over 18 years old.
The province’s separate stream of AstraZeneca vaccines for pharmacies has now been used up on Vancouver Island, Henry said Thursday.
Some of what was originally allocated to the Island Health region has been diverted to deal with COVID-19 hotspots in other parts of the province.
“We’ve redirected it to the 13 communities where we were seeing ongoing transmission, particularly in younger people,” Henry said. “Yes, all of the supply of AstraZeneca here has been used up. We have not received any more supply of AstraZeneca since last week. We are hopeful that we will get more.”
Henry referred specifically to the Cowichan Tribes of Vancouver Island as an example of how vaccinations can effectively stop community-based transmission of the virus.
“We had a lot of transmission in that community and immunization has stopped that in its tracks,” Henry said.
Details of the province’s new travel restrictions will be announced by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth on Friday, Henry confirmed.
“We know that right now with the transmissions rates we are having, travel will spread the virus further,” Henry said. “The intent is to slow the spread and prevent transmission of this virus during this critical time for us all.”
Henry emphasized that even those who are vaccinated must still comply with public health orders restricting travel and social gatherings.
“The pressure on our health-care system is immense right now,” Henry said, asking British Columbians to embrace this time of “shared sacrifice” for the benefit of everyone.
“We are going to see more people in hospital over the next few weeks,” Henry warned. “It is at the point now where we have had to stop scheduled surgeries so we can give people what they need to be able to care for people who are in hospitals right now.”
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said some residents in northern B.C. who need surgery or urgent hospital care will be sent to Vancouver Island “in the next couple of weeks” rather than to the Lower Mainland, where hospital space is at a premium due to the region’s higher case numbers.
“It should be said that Vancouver Island hospitals are exceptionally busy right now because they’ve been doing record numbers of surgeries and providing care on Vancouver Island,” Dix said.
Henry noted that the province is working with tourism operators to prevent all non-essential travel until the May long weekend.
“Go camping, but go camping within your area,” Henry said. “You should have access to your local campsite, not the one that’s a ferry ride away.”