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B.C. records 531 new COVID-19 cases, as variant strains become more prevalent

B.C. has now detected 627 cases of mutant strains of the COVID-19 virus.
Bonnie Henry - booking data
Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry stands in front of a screen showing who is eligible to be vaccinated

B.C. continues to rack up an average of more than 500 new COVID-19 cases per day, with 531 new infections detected in the past 24 hours, raising the number of cases since the virus was first discovered in the province to 85,650. More than 92.5% of those infected, or 79,309 people, are considered to have recovered because they have had two negative tests for the virus.

Some concern is that the number of infections that are considered to be of mutant strains of the virus, or variants of concern, are rising fast, and that those variants are thought to spread more easily. 

Health officials test for variants after they have initially detected that an individual has COVID-19, so all newly determined variant cases were not necessarily cases that were discovered overnight.

Nonetheless, B.C. reported that officials had discovered overnight 51 new COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern, for a total of 627 cases.

Of the people who have been infected with a variant strain, 109 are actively battling infections, while 518 individuals have recovered. The B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant is the dominant variant strain in B.C., with 580 total cases, while there are 33 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant, and 14 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant, provincial health officer Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement. 

The vast majority of the 4,861 people in B.C. actively battling COVID-19 infections have been told to self isolate, although 244 are in hospital, and 66 of those are sick enough to be in intensive care units. Health officials are closely monitoring another 9,051 individuals for symptoms because they have had known contact with people who have been identified as carrying the virus. 

One more person died from COVID-19 in the past day, which raises B.C.'s death toll from the virus to 1,394.

Vaccinations have yet to ramp up, as only 11,937 new people received their first shot of a vaccine overnight. Another 22 people received a second dose of the vaccine. This number of vaccinations is far below the average needed to vaccinate the eligible population of the province by September, much less July, which is newly health officials' goal.

In total, 355,340 doses of vaccine have gone to 268,380 individuals, with 86,960 people having received needed second doses. 

Here is the breakdown of where the 531 newly infected people reside, by health region:
• 147 in Vancouver Coastal Health (27.2%);
• 291 in Fraser Health (54.8%);
• 19 in Island Health (3.6%);
• 42 in Interior Health (7.9%); and
• 32 in Northern Health (6%).

Some good news is that there were no new healthcare facility outbreaks overnight. 

None of the nine active outbreaks at seniors' homes is in the Vancouver Coastal Health region or Island Health regions. 

The five active outbreaks at seniors' living facilities in Fraser Health are:
• Chartwell Carrington House in Mission;
• Fleetwood Place in Surrey;
• Holmberg House Hospice in Abbotsford;
• Revera Sunwood in Maple Ridge; and
• Shaughnessy Care Centre in Port Coquitlam.

The only outbreak at such a facility in the Northern Health region is at the Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert.

The three active outbreaks at seniors' living facilities in Interior Health are:
• Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre in Kamloops,
• The Florentine in Merritt; and
• Cottonwoods Care Centre in Kelowna.

There are also eight active COVID-19 outbreaks at B.C. hospitals. They include:
• Chilliwack General Hospital in Chilliwack;
• Dawson Creek and District Hospital in Dawson Creek;
• Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody;
• Kelowna General Hospital in Kelowna;
• Mission Memorial Hospital in Mission;
• Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster;
• Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey; and
• Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom