British Columbia is likely in for a “rough ride” in the coming days before the calming effects of COVID-19 restrictions kick in, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

British Columbia is likely in for a “rough ride” in the coming days before the calming effects of COVID-19 restrictions kick in, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C.’s top doctor urges close contacts of COVID-19 cases to ‘stay away from others’

Dr. Bonnie Henry said 11,608 people have been identified as close contacts of recent cases in the province

British Columbia is likely in for a “rough ride” in the coming days before the calming effects of COVID-19 restrictions kick in, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday.

Henry said 11,608 people have been identified as close contacts of recent COVID-19 cases and she emphasized the importance of self-isolation among those exposed during the 14-day incubation period.

Most people show symptoms five to seven days after exposure, so a proportion of those close contacts will fall ill each day, she said.

“The things we do today will prevent that next generation of cases,” she said during a COVID-19 briefing.

“We’re looking to be in a rough ride for the next few days and those people who have had close contact with somebody who has been ill — we need to stay away from others, we need to stay safe.”

British Columbia recorded 832 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 100,880 since the pandemic began.

There are 296 people in hospital and five more people have died, pushing the death toll to 1,463.

Sweeping new restrictions introduced this week amid surging cases include bans on indoor dining, fitness classes and faith gatherings.

The province continues to move through its age-based vaccine distribution list, however, it has paused a program offering shots to front-line workers while awaiting further information about the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

“We’re going to need to regroup and we will come back early next week as soon as we have more information to determine how we will move forward with that program,” Henry said.

As of Thursday, people 72 and older, Indigenous people 18 and over, and individuals who are clinically extremely vulnerable and have a letter identifying them as such, can book their appointments.

Pharmacies on the Lower Mainland overwhelmed with booking requests this week are receiving more doses of the AstraZeneca to administer to people between the ages of 55 and 65. New pharmacies have also been added to the distribution list.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province received 188,800 new doses Thursday, with more to come next week.

New supply is being distributed to an additional 375 community pharmacy locations in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions, bringing the total number of pharmacies offering vaccine appointments to 488, the BC Pharmacy Association says in a release.

The government announced this week that AstraZeneca would not be offered to those under 55 amid concerns about rare blood clots among younger people and expiring supply.

Labour Minister Harry Bains also announced new legal protections Thursday for workers to take time off to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.

The changes allow part-time and full-time workers to take as much time as needed to travel and receive the vaccine or to take a dependent family member to get their shot, though no specific time has been set out.

Major unions welcomed the change while urging the government to go further and ensure that employees don’t lose pay for the work they miss while getting their vaccine.

“While job-protected leave is crucial, many workers can’t afford to take that time off if it means losing wages,” Sussanne Skidmore, the BC Federation of Labour’s secretary-treasurer, said in a statement.

There are 90 new confirmed cases that are variants of concern for a total of 2,643. Of the total cases, 192 are active.

One of the most contagious variants, B.1.1.7, has a competitive advantage and is replacing the original virus as the dominant strain, Henry said.

“There is an inevitable replacement of variants,” she said.

However, a large cluster involving the P1 variant first identified in Brazil has been contained in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, she said. A small number of cases had spread beyond Whistler but she said they are being watched closely.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

Williams Lake Pickleball Club members Marykay Simpson and Roy Simpson compete in a friendly game of doubles April 12 at the Kiwanis Tennis Courts in the lakecity. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake Pickleball Club excited for outdoor season

Club continues to gain popularity in Williams Lake

BC Wildfire Service crew member Josh Hutchinson participated in a controlled burn above the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds on Tuesday, April 20 that was conducted in concert with the Williams Lake Fire Department. It was a good weather day for the burn, as on Wednesday, April 21, the BCWS is urging caution, with strong winds in the forecast Wednesday and Thursday for the region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Cariboo Fire Centre urges caution against outdoor burning due to strong winds forecast

Public, industry asked to consider postponing burning until calmer weather

Taseko's Gibraltar Mine north of Williams Lake gave 40 layoff-notices Tuesday, April 20. (Photo submitted)
Gibraltar Mine laying off 40 to 60 workers, awaiting permission to reopen existing pit

“It’s unacceptable,” said Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Police road checks are coming for people travelling between regions while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. clarifies COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lower Mainland a single zone

Vehicle checks on highways, at ferry terminals to start Friday

Most Read