Vancouver Island adds 61 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death over weekend

B.C. health officials identified 61 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Monday.

The new cases were among 2,174 cases found across the province over the weekend.

Of those cases 835 were reported Saturday, 671 were confirmed Sunday and 668 were added Monday.

The Island Health region has now reported 4,726 cases of the virus since the pandemic began. There are currently 265 active cases on Vancouver Island, including 15 people in hospital for treatment, with five more requiring critical care.

Island Health identified the locations of 212 active cases Monday, including 111 in the South Island, 83 in the Central Island and 18 in the North Island.

Health officials say 15 people died of COVID-19 in B.C. over the weekend, bringing the province's death toll to 1,596.

One death was reported on Vancouver Island, according to Health Minister Adrian Dix.

"As always our condolences and our thoughts are with the families who lost a loved one over this past weekend," said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

B.C. has now administered 1,877,330 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including 91,731 second doses.

Henry says B.C. has reached a "new and encouraging point in our vaccine supply," with more than one million doses of vaccine expected to arrive throughout the month of May.

She encourages residents to register for their vaccine appointment, noting that all B.C. adults are eligible to register. As of Monday, the province is booking vaccine appointments for people aged 54 and older.

"Everybody in B.C. now who is 18 years of age and older is eligible and should be registering on our Get Vaccinated website," she said.

"With more vaccines arriving this week, these appointments will also be speeding up," she added.

B.C.'s top doctor added that the province is looking at shortening the interval between a person's first and second vaccine doses, which is currently set at 16 weeks. Shortening the time between vaccine doses will depend on vaccine shipments and rollout rates, says Henry.

Henry noted that there have been hiccups in the province's vaccine rollout plan, but said the program has been largely successful.

"In some ways we've been building a spaceship as we've been flying it," she said.

She noted that COVID-19 cases have been on the decline "slowly but surely" and that B.C. is "starting to come down on the other side" of the steepest pandemic wave it's seen to date.

However, she cautioned that all health orders should continue to be followed until more people in the province have received their first vaccine dose.

While transmission is starting to decline, B.C.'s health minister says the number of daily cases is still worrying.

"These numbers are still too high, way too high," he said.

Dix added that the pressure on the province's health-care system continues to weigh on health-care workers, more than a year after the pandemic began.