Tuesday December 29, 2020 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., editor | Island Social Trends
After a four-day Christmas weekend — a break taken much to heart by many after a long COVID-challenged year, there was a jolt back to reality with a BC Health COVID data report for five reporting periods (December 24 to 29).
Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix delivered their joint COVID-19 report today at 3 pm. The last live COVID joint press conference for 2020 by Dr Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix is scheduled for Thursday December 31. Next week Minister Dix will give a detailed report on BC’s continued surgical renewal.
COVID case numbers at December 29:
With only two days left in this long pandemic year, in BC there has now been a total of 50,815 COVID cases (901 in Island Health), with 2,206 of those new in the last five days.
Of the total year-long cases, 7,580 are currently active (76 in Island Health), and another 9,414 people are self-isolating due to exposure to known cases of test-positive COVID-19 (that figure does not include the Northern health region due to some data-reporting challenges).
There are 373 people in hospital of whom 80 are in ICU. Of the COVID hospital patients, seven are in Island Health (two in ICU).
There are presently 56 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living (eight of those new in the last five days), with eight active outbreaks in acute care (including at Vancouver General Hospital).
There were 74 more COVID-related deaths over the last five days (none on Vancouver Island), bringing this year’s total so far to 882.
The highest case counts of COVID-19 this year have been in the Vancouver lower mainland areas under the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health authorities.
Comparatively, cases and transmission have been significantly lower on Vancouver Island in the Island Health region. For most of the year there has been discussion on this point, with factors that include Vancouver Island’s lower population density, an already-existing lifestyle that includes frequently getting outdoors, perhaps more opportunity for home-based work environments that have allowed for people to retreat from traditional workplaces, and an overall cultural mesh with the type of public health messaging. As well, the education community has made a diligent effort to apply public health orders quite effectively.
The ‘out of Canada’ category for COVID-19 cases is comprised mostly of people who are temporarily in Canada for work which supports the Canadian economy (such as farm workers as part of the food supply chain).
Since the start of immunizations, 11,930 people have received a COVID-19 vaccine in BC (the mRNA Pfizer-BioNTech product). Immunizations among health-care workers began in the week of December 14 in Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions. In the week of December 21 the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine began to be administered in Island Health, Interior Health and Northern Health.
The Moderna vaccine, the second approved vaccine in Canada (an mRNA-type vaccine, like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine but easier to transport and store due to a less strident ultra-low temperature requirement), arrived today in British Columbia (with more expected on December 30 as well). The first doses of the Moderna vaccine are targeted for remote and isolated First Nations communities and residents of long-term care.
BC is shifting to an approach to provide a first-dose of available vaccines to as many people as possible. This differs from the manufacturer recommendations to hold onto half of each supply delivery for a recommended second dose. BC’s approach is to give some (good level) of immunity to as many people as possible, with the expectation that manufacturers will comply with agreed-upon delivery schedules.