British Columbia health officials identified 39 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Tuesday.
The new cases are among 559 cases found across B.C. since Monday, bringing the provincial total to 77,822 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
One more person in B.C. has died of the disease, health officials announced Tuesday, bringing the provincial death toll to 1,336.
The Island Health region has now recorded 2,206 cases of COVID-19 and 24 deaths during the pandemic.
There are currently 260 active cases of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island, including 16 people in hospital and six in intensive care.
Island Health has identified the locations of 232 active cases in the island region Tuesday, including 140 active cases in the Central Island, 52 active cases in the North Island and 40 active cases in the South Island.
There were no new outbreaks reported in the province Tuesday, said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
“Today we have had no new cases in long-term care or assisted living in the province, and we had no new deaths in long-term care in the last 24 hours,” Henry said.
The single death recorded Tuesday was in a Vancouver-area acute-care unit.
“This is a reflection of the vaccines that we have had,” Henry said. “It really is remarkable.”
Health officials have administered 224,354 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in B.C., including 58,896 secondary doses, primarily for seniors in long-term care.
“We are starting to receive increased supplies of vaccinations over the next coming weeks,” she said, noting that health officials are working behind the scenes to ready vaccine sites across the province.
Part of that work has been to expand the pool of health-care workers who can administer vaccines, Henry announced. Dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians, paramedics and retired nurses will all be allowed to administer vaccines over the next six months, she said.
“Everybody over age 18 right now who are eligible for vaccines will have access,” Henry said. “Nobody will be left behind. We will be finding you from various ways.”
Henry said seniors over the age of 80 will be contacted “in the next two weeks” as a priority group.
“Please be patient,” Henry urged. “We have not forgotten you. These plans are in place and we will be reaching out to you in the coming days and weeks.”
Henry specifically addressed difficulties with getting second doses of the vaccine to the Cowichan Tribes on Vancouver Island, where an ongoing outbreak has killed four people.
“We have been working with the Cowichan nations, with Island Health and the First Nations Health Authority,” Henry said.
“This is a very frustrating and ongoing outbreak that’s been happening in this community and it has been tragic, particularly in young people," she added. "So we have been working very closely with them around where immunization is best delivered, to whom and how do we manage this as the crisis that it is and there are many things that have been going on to support the Cowichan community and we will continue to do that.”
Henry said exact details of the vaccine rollout plan will be revealed Monday.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the vaccine plan will include 172 mass-vaccination sites across the province when widespread immunization begins in the middle of March.
“We’re at an important moment in the pandemic,” Dix said. “We see (daily) transmission between 500 and 600 cases, significantly in Metro Vancouver, and that’s why we have to not stop right now,” he said. “Our B.C. fight is about turning the uncertainty of these times into achievements and reducing transmission.”