Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide an update on COVID-19 on January 4, 2020: (Province of B.C. / Flickr)

Fifty-nine more cases of COVID-19 were identified in the Island Health region over the weekend, health officials announced Monday.

There are now 186 active cases of the virus across Vancouver Island. Most of the cases, 117, are located in the Central Island. Meanwhile, the South Island has reported 37 active cases while the North Island has confirmed 32.

Across the province, 1,475 cases of the virus were confirmed over the past three days. Twenty-two people also died of the virus over the same time period, including one person on Vancouver Island.

B.C.’s death toll has now surpassed 1,000, for a total of 1,010 deaths.

“These, of course, are our grandparents, our friends, our aunts, our uncles our sons and daughters,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “To the families, communities and care providers across British Columbia, we know this has been a most challenging time."

Several COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care homes were declared on the weekend, including one on Vancouver Island.

The new outbreak is located at Hart House in Victoria, which is owned and operated by Trillium Communities. So far, just one staff member has tested positive for the virus at Hart House, and no residents have displayed symptoms of COVID-19, Island Health said Saturday. 

On Monday, Henry touched on B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plans. The province plans to give as many people as possible their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before giving them a second dose after 35 days.

The intent is for vaccines to be distributed as widely as possible, rather than giving a smaller group of people increased protection within the next three months.

“Our decision is around maximizing distribution while balancing the supply,” said Henry.

According to Henry, a second vaccine dose most be administered within 19 to 42 days after a person receives their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The second dose largely improves the duration of vaccine effectiveness, rather than its protective effectiveness.

After the first two weeks, the Pfizer vaccine is 92.6 per cent effective while the Moderna vaccine is 92.1 per cent effective, according to health officials.

Once a second dose is administered, the Pfizer vaccine improves to 94.4 per cent effective while the Moderna vaccine rises to 95.2 per cent effective for a longer period of time.

Henry noted that there was “no difference between the people who got (their second dose) at day 19 and those who got it at day 42.”

The province estimates that by delaying the second COVID-19 vaccine dose, approximately 150,000 more people will be able to receive their first dose of the vaccine over the next three months.