B.C.’s vaccine rollout has struggled with a massive surge of phone calls, with public health officials asking everyone to be patient and observe the schedule for making appointments by age group. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

B.C.’s vaccine rollout has struggled with a massive surge of phone calls, with public health officials asking everyone to be patient and observe the schedule for making appointments by age group. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

COVID-19 variant cases climb in B.C. as vaccinations continue

182 cases of variant strains among 550 new cases diagnosed

B.C. recorded 550 new cases of COVID-19 infection Tuesday, with 182 of them the “variants of concern” that are being tracked by public health officials.

The surge in variant cases, identified by DNA analysis, began with 144 cases identified over the weekend, with the most in one day Tuesday.

“There have been 182 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in our province, for a total of 576 cases,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement March 9. “Of the total cases, 113 are active and the remaining people have recovered. This includes 530 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, 33 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 13 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.”

B.C.’s coronavirus vaccine program has reached 343,381 as clinics around the province are prepared for the start of mass public vaccination next week. Regional health authorities have started booking appointments for community vaccination clinics due to open March 15. People aged 90 and older in the community, and Indigenous people 65 and over, are making appointments for the first week, with those aged 85 and over to start calling next week.

There were two new COVID-19-related deaths as of Tuesday, one year after the first person died of the novel coronavirus, for a total of 1,393 deaths since the pandemic began. There are 249 people in hospital, 68 in intensive care.

One new health care facility outbreak, with at least one positive test, was reported at Fleetwood Place in Surrey. Outbreaks at Glacier View Lodge in Courtenay and Fleetwood Villa in Surrey have been declared over.

“Now, with every new person who is vaccinated, we can take comfort in knowing with each immunization, we all benefit – Elders, seniors, families and communities,” Dix and Henry said. “Let’s keep moving forward and doing our part to put COVID-19 behind us.”

RELATED: Telus adding more call centre agents for vaccine rollout

RELATED: B.C. reports 144 variant COVID-19 cases over weekend


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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