Success is starting to emerge in B.C.'s battle to take control of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Provincial health officials detected 324 new infections on November 23. There were also 324 cases confirmed on November 17, but there has not been a day with a lower number of new infections since August 9, when 293 new cases were discovered.
The number of new infections also strangely includes 11 historical cases of people who live outside B.C. These are historical cases that were removed due to a data correction, and are now being "correctly reassigned," the government said. The result of these being old cases mean that there really were only 313 cases genuinely detected in the past day.
The official count of 324 new cases detected in the past day also includes:
• 102 in Fraser Health;
• 38 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
• 77 in Interior Health;
• 60 in Northern Health; and
• 36 in Island Health.
The low number of new infections has helped reduce the number of known active cases to 3,047, which is also the lowest number since August 9.
Those active cases only include six people who normally reside outside the province. By health region, the active cases also include:
• 1,115 in Fraser Health;
• 472 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
• 595 in Interior Health;
• 444 in Northern Health; and
• 415 in Island Health.
COVID-19 hospitalizations rose overnight by eight, to 345, with 115 of those patients in intensive care units (ICUs) – the same number as yesterday.
Another positive sign is that the number of people dying from COVID-19 has been on the decline.
One person in the Northern Health region died overnight from the disease that spawned a global pandemic.
Those who are contracting COVID-19, and becoming seriously ill with the disease tend to be those who are unvaccinated.
Between November 15 and November 21, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 58.4% of new cases, and between November 8 and November 21, those individuals accounted for 69% of hospitalizations.
This is despite the vast majority of British Columbians already fully vaccinated.
B.C. government data show that 4,214,774 residents have had at least one dose of vaccine, while 4,050,134, or more than 96% of those are fully vaccinated. The government estimates that 90.9% of eligible British Columbians, older than 12 years, have had at least one shot, while 87.4% of B.C. residents are considered fully vaccinated with two jabs.
Earlier today, provincial health officer Bonnie Henry said B.C.’s 350,000 children between the ages of five and 11 can start getting vaccinated against COVID-19 this Monday.
Health Canada approved COVID-19 immunizations for children five to 11 on November 19 and the first Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) vaccines for that age group arrived in Canada earlier this week.
The vaccine used in this rollout is a special formulation different from the one given to those aged 12 years and older.
"Outbreaks are rare events [in schools,]" Henry said.
She said that during the pandemic, up to November 13, 45% of schools had endured a COVID-19 exposure notification. Those notifications do not accurately reflect risk within the school environment, she added.
What she considers to be more important are clusters of cases, with that defined as being two or more cases within 14 days, where there has been transmission likely in the school setting.
Henry said B.C. has had 382 clusters, in 12% of the province's schools.
"So in 88% of our schools across this province, we've not had any transmission events," she said. "I think that's good news."
Other good news is that new infections and hospitalizations among younger children has been on the decline.
Infections in that five-to-11-year-old age group was less than 500 last week, and Henry said that this was the first time in many weeks that infections in that age group were that low. She added that this age group was also responsible for no hospitalizations in the week that ended November 22.
No new outbreaks have been recorded at seniors' homes or health-care facilities, leaving the number of active outbreaks in those places at 12. •