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

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read