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

Metchosin ecologist Andy MacKinnon is raising alarm bells for arbutus trees, as many are falling victim to a fungus called leaf blights. The leaves and branches of the trees are turning brown or black and then dropping off, eventually killing them. (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
Vancouver Island arbutus trees fighting for survival against parasites

Many trees weakened, turning black or brown and dying, says local ecologist

Applied theatre researcher Dennis Gupa wearing a traditional Filipino malong at a local beach in Victoria. (Credit: John Threlfall)
UVic researcher uses theatre to empower marginalized voices, fight climate change

Dennis Gupa looks to create new modes of expression, knowledge sharing

Sooke resident Lesa Cro started up a new pet waste removal business. Cro goes to yards in the region, removes all of the waste and then composts it, so that it doesn’t go into landfills. (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
New pet poop-scooping business picks up in Sooke

Poop No More service taking the ‘dirty work’ out of lawn cleaning

Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, is the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. (Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos)
Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Most Read