Hannah Ankenmann receives her first shot of COVID-19 vaccine administered by a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Family Health nurse in early March. Small communities on Vancouver Island are receiving vaccine for entire communities. (Zoe Ducklow/North Island Gazette)

Hannah Ankenmann receives her first shot of COVID-19 vaccine administered by a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Family Health nurse in early March. Small communities on Vancouver Island are receiving vaccine for entire communities. (Zoe Ducklow/North Island Gazette)

B.C.’s COVID-19 case count climbs to 737 on Friday

Up to 292 people in hospital, two more deaths

B.C.’s COVID-19 case count was up to 737 Friday, after 622 new infections on Thursday, a notable increase from recent days, but with increasing vaccine protection, there were no new health care outbreaks for the fourth straight day.

There were 292 people in hospital as of Friday, up from 286 in the previous 24 hours, with 85 in critical care units. Officials reported two more deaths related to the novel coronavirus, for a total of 1,421 in B.C. since the pandemic began a year ago.

For the first part of the week, new cases totalled 491 for Sunday, 460 Monday, 556 Tuesday and 498 on Wednesday.

Vaccine doses delivered in B.C. are now more than 490,000 as the age-based vaccination program continues in communities across the province. People aged 80 and up are eligible to book appointments as of March 19, with age 79 and up eligible to call as of Saturday, March 20. Appointment details and phone numbers can be found here.

Front-line workers including in grocery stores, schools and emergency services such as police and paramedics are being prioritized for vaccine starting in April, using AstraZeneca vaccine made available from a supplier in India and soon from the U.S. Employee groups will be contacted and are not to call the health authority appointment lines, which are reserved for the age-based vaccination program.

“The selection of the front-line workers for part two of this program is based on the known risk of transmission, as well as the nature and size of the workplace environment,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement March 19. “We remind all businesses and workers that the requirement to continue to follow COVID-19 safety plans remains in place, even if workers have been vaccinated.

“We also remind workers that health authorities will contact employers directly to arrange immunizations, and calling the age-based booking line will not provide access to the parallel AstraZeneca/SII vaccine program.”

RELATED: B.C. aims to deliver COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July

RELATED: Emergency, grocery, school staff to get shots starting April


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