Health officials have identified 29 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Friday.
The cases are among 514 found across the province in B.C.’s final update of the week. Five more people have died of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, health officials said, bringing the province’s death toll to 1,189.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix expressed their condolences to the families affected by Friday’s losses. None of the deaths occurred on Vancouver Island.
The Island Health region has now seen 1,597cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. According to the BCCDC, 246 of those cases are currently active.
Island Health has identified the approximate locations of 233 of the active cases. Fifty are located in the South Island, 170 are active in the Central Island and 13 are ongoing in the North Island.
B.C. has now administered 124,979 COVID-19 vaccines, including 4,262 second doses.
Henry says that every resident and worker in the long-term care system who wanted a COVID-19 vaccine has now been immunized. She added that there was a “very high uptake” within this population.
But, health officials say they are now trying to adapt previously laid out immunization plans to upcoming vaccine shipment delays.
Henry says that Pfizer vaccine deliveries are expected to be significantly fewer than initially planned in February, and Moderna has now reported that there will be about a 20 per cent reduction in vaccine doses shipped to B.C. next week.
Despite the setbacks, Henry says that B.C. is still set to meet phases one and two of its vaccine rollout plan.
“Next week we will be back on track,” she said. “I am confident we can match our phase one and phase two timelines.”
Henry says that the vaccine shortages will be “made up” by the end of March, based on what the federal government has agreed upon with Pfizer and Moderna.
“We have assurances…that these shortfalls will be made up by the end of Q1,” she said.
She adds that Canada is in the final stages of approving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
Other vaccines are also in various stages of the approval process, says Henry, which can all be slotted into the province’s current immunization plans “in specific areas.”
By spring, health officials predict that British Columbians will be able to travel safely within the province. However, Henry says that B.C. will be “actively discouraging” visits from Canadians outside of the province.
Further into the year, Henry says that “we can have a summer again,” but only if cases shrink down to manageable levels.