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Health officials ready for ‘monumental task’ of mass vaccinations as B.C. records 456 new cases

There are 237 people in hospital with the disease, 64 of whom are in intensive care

B.C. health officials announced 456 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths on Wednesday.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 237 people, 64 of whom are in intensive care.

The latest numbers mean that the seven-day rolling average of new cases has been rising for a week straight.

Health officials are asking British Columbians to celebrate the anti-bullying message of Wednesday’s Pink Shirt Day by showing kindness and respecting measures to reduce transmission of the novel coronavirus.

“Kindness is staying away from friends and family, it is offering thanks to the store clerk who reminds us to follow their safety plan, it is offering a smile — even behind our masks and assuming the best of everyone around us,” Henry and Dix said.

A total of 1,338 people in B.C. have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the pandemic began out of 78,278 confirmed cases.

COVID-19 in British Columbia by the numbers

There are currently 4,668 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with public health monitoring 7,924 people across B.C. who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. Another 72,219 people who tested positive have recovered.

B.C. has recorded no new outbreaks in health-care facilities. An outbreak at Creekside Landing care home in Vernon has been declared over after two deaths from the disease, and Fraser Health says the outbreak at Burnaby Hospital has also ended.

So far, 230,875 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 62,608 second doses. That means 6,521 people have received shots in the last 24 hours.

Daily COVID-19 vaccination progress in B.C.

Henry and Dix said that as more doses of the vaccines arrive, public health is trying to balance the desire for speed with the need for careful planning.

“Just as our health-care system has risen to the challenge of protecting and caring for people who have become ill with this virus, so too are countless others working hard to get people immunized as quickly and safely as possible,” they said.

“Vaccinating our entire population is a monumental task that must account for the diversity of our geography and our population. We must consider how to safely deliver vaccine to rural and remote communities, how to connect with seniors and Elders everywhere, and how to ensure the process to get immunized is as simple as possible.”

Current hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in B.C.

Henry said Tuesday she had expanded the number of health professions able to administer a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dentists, paramedics, midwives, pharmacy technicians and retired nurses are now among those who can join the vaccination workforce over the next six months. B.C. plans on opening 172 vaccination sites across the province as it ramps up to immunize the general population. Henry said B.C. will maintain its age-based immunization plan despite some calls to prioritize essential workers.

The number of new cases reported daily in B.C. has also been on an upward trend in recent weeks, to the point where the number of active cases and the seven-day rolling average of new cases are at their highest in a month.

CBC British Columbia is hosting a town hall on March 10 to answer your COVID-19 vaccine questions.

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