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B.C. expanding vaccine workforce as province records 559 new cases of COVID-19

B.C. health officials announced 559 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death on Tuesday.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced Tuesday during a live news conference that she has issued a public health order expanding the number of health professions able to administer a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians and retired nurses are now among those who will be able to join the vaccination work force over the next six months.

Henry said no additional deaths were recorded in long-term care homes — a reflection of the success of vaccinations in those settings.

“I think it is a moment to reflect as we start to receive increased supplies of immunization products, that we have delivered all of the vaccines as they’ve arrived.”

Henry said the province will announce plans Monday on the vaccine rollout for people above the age of 80.

A total of 1,336 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say there are 238 people currently in hospital, with 68 in intensive care.

There are 4,677 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with 12 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities and five in acute care units of hospitals.

“We’re in a period of vaccine hope and pandemic reality,” said Henry, acknowledging the province faces the duality of a vaccination program that is ramping up as variants of concern enter the community.

“It’s concerning we’re seeing increases in percentage positive and seven-day averages in the Lower Mainland,” she said.

“Since the beginning of February, when we extended orders, part of the reason to do that is because we didn’t know how many variants we were  seeing.”

B.C. is currently screening 70 per cent of positive tests for the variants.

Uptick in cases

The number of new cases reported daily in B.C. has 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 point in a month. 

Officials said in a statement Monday the test positivity rate is climbing, hitting 6.8 per cent provincewide on Sunday. In the Northern Health region, 12.9 per cent of tests came back positive.

On Monday, Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Reka Gustafson and Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside held a last-minute news conference to address the discovery of a faster-spreading COVID-19 variant first reported in the U.K. in positive cases at seven schools in Surrey and Delta.

They said there has been no evidence so far that the variants have been transmitted within those schools.

To date, there have been 101 confirmed cases of variants in B.C.

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Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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