B.C.’s COVID-19 case count has declined so far in 2021, as highest-risk people receive vaccinations. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

B.C.’s COVID-19 case count has declined so far in 2021, as highest-risk people receive vaccinations. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

B.C. extends COVID-19 gathering restrictions as infections slow down

New cases of variants of concern increasing, Dr. Henry says

The B.C. government is extending its restrictions on gatherings through the rest of February as new variants of COVID-19 continue to show up.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Friday the tight restrictions on gatherings to household groups have to continue until B.C.’s vaccination supply picks up again. While COVID-19 infections have declined significantly in the Lower Mainland, Henry said a major concern is the increase in infections and hospitalization in the Northern and Interior Health regions.

Premier John Horgan said Friday the reduction in vaccine shipments from pharmaceutical makers Pfizer and Moderna was discussed on Thursday’s call with premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Shipments are down “for the next number of weeks” but Canada is still expecting to receive four million Pfizer doses and two million from Moderna by the end of March as specified in the contracts, he said.

“We’re going to amend our plan here in B.C. and other provinces will amend their plans, so when the flow of vaccine comes up again in a meaningful way, we’ll be able to start through the various phases that we announced a few weeks ago,” Horgan told CFAX radio in Victoria Feb. 5.

The plan announced in January is for registrations to begin in March for the largest mass vaccination in the province’s history. Starting in April with clinics set up in 172 communities using school gyms, arenas, community and church halls and convention centres, the target remains having four million people vaccinated by the end of September. Vaccinations are to be administered to people by age group, after those 80 and up have been offered protection along with other high-risk people.

RELATED: B.C.’s ‘mass vaccination’ expected to start in April

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