British Columbians' efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 are having an effect, and the province's vaccination campaign has ramped up to a record level of providing new jabs in arms.
This combination of phenomena prompted Premier John Horgan to say that health restrictions on travelling, and on dining inside restaurants, will end at midnight to start May 25.
"Expect on Tuesday that the circuit breaker will be over, and a roadmap will be laid out for all British Columbians," he said. "This is great news."
He called his government's orders banning travel around the province, and dining inside restaurants, a "circuit breaker," when he announced them on March 29. He did not elaborate, however, on specifics of the upcoming changes.
Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry, and others, had previously been careful not to say explicitly that the province's health orders, or those specific orders, dubbed a "circuit breaker," would not be extended. She said May 17 that "nothing is going to be back to 100%. On Tuesday, it's not going to be a light switch. It is going to be a dimmer switch."
Horgan said he would not lay out exact details on the province's reopening until May 25 because "when people hear that there's good news on the horizon, they assume that that horizon is now."
Other positive news is that B.C. health officials detected 357 new COVID-19 infections in the past day, which is the lowest total since February 19. The number of tests conducted was lower than average, at 7,581 but the daily positive-test rate was 4.7%, which is the lowest rate since February.
By health region, the 357 new infections include:
• 80 in Vancouver Coastal Health (22.4%);
• 210 in Fraser Health (58.8%);
• 12 in Island Health (3.3%);
• 33 in Interior Health (9.2%); and
• 22 in Northern Health (6.1%).
The number of those in B.C. hospitals with COVID-19 fell by nine overnight, to 331, with 113 of those in intensive care units – five fewer than yesterday.
The number of those in B.C. actively battling infections fell for a 19th consecutive data update, to 4,636, which is the lowest total since March 1.
In the past 24 hours, health officials have provided a record 63,453 doses of vaccine to 59,793 new people, and 3,660 others, who were getting needed second doses.
In total, the province has provided 2,687,360 vaccine doses to 2,548,454 people, with 138,906 people being fully vaccinated with two doses.
Unfortunately, three more British Columbians died from COVID-19 overnight, raising the province's death toll from the disease to 1,661. Henry said that all of the new deaths were people who were at least in their sixties.
Of the 140,953 people known to have contracted COVID-19 in B.C. since health officials detected the first infection in late January, 2020, more than 95.4%, or 134,521 people are considered by the province to have recovered.
The province's way of determining who is recovered is based on a determination of who is infectious, Henry explained last week. People who are self-isolating are given 10 days from the date that they first started exhibiting symptoms. As long as they are continuing to improve, they are declared to have recovered at that 10-day mark.
One new outbreak at a seniors' home is at Chartwell Carlton Care Residence, in Burnaby, while the outbreak at Orchard Haven, in Keremeos, has been declared over.
That means that the four outbreaks at seniors' homes in B.C. are:
• Cherington Place in Surrey;
• Chartwell Carlton Care Residence in Burnaby;
• Heritage Manor in Fort St. John; and
• Spring Valley Care Centre in Kelowna.
The outbreak at Dawson Creek and District Hospital has been declared over, meaning that the only active outbreak at a B.C. hospital is at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.