Record-breaking 34 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Island Health region

Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at LifeLabs after being logged upon receipt at the company's lab, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Health officials have identified a record-setting 34 cases of COVID-19 in the Island Health region Wednesday.

The previous record was set on Jan. 6, when 28 cases of the virus were confirmed in the Island Health region.

There are now 196 active cases of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island, according to Island Health data. Thirty-nine of the active cases are located in the South Island, 130 are found in the Central Island and 27 are ongoing in the North Island.

Across the province, 519 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed over the past 24 hours, as well as 12 more deaths.

One person died of COVID-19 in the Island Health region, bringing the health authority’s death toll to 14. Since the pandemic began, 1,031 people have died of the virus across B.C.

“We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix in a joint written-statement released Wednesday evening.

There are currently 13 people in hospital for treatment of the virus on Vancouver Island, as well as two people receiving critical care.

As B.C. continues to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, health officials have appointed Dr. Penny Ballem, chair of Vancouver Coastal Health, to act as the executive lead for a B.C. immunization response team.

“Dr. Ballem brings a depth of experience in health-care, as well as in municipal government,” said Henry and Dix.

“She has been tasked to work alongside the Minister of Health, the provincial health officer and Dr. Ross Brown to ensure we are ready for widespread community immunization when the vaccine supply increases and is more readily available, starting in April,” the said.

Health officials say that B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization program will be the largest vaccination effort in the province’s history.

The number of vaccine doses shipped to B.C. is expected to rise later this spring. Between April and June, approximately 2.6 million vaccine doses will arrive in B.C. Between July and September, another six million doses are estimated to arrive.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated that health officials expect every Canadian to be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by September, if they want one. 

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