VANCOUVER — Sixteen people died from COVID-19 over the weekend, B.C. health officials announced Monday after unveiling a new vaccine passport system.
Fourteen of the latest deaths were recorded in the Interior Health region, which has seen an alarming surge in cases over recent weeks fuelled by the highly contagious Delta variant.
The update, released in a written statement from the Ministry of Health, brought B.C.’s COVID-19 death toll to 1,801, and the seven-day average for coronavirus fatalities to three per day.
Officials also announced 1,711 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded between Friday afternoon and Monday afternoon, bringing B.C.’s rolling average for infections up to 588 per day.
That’s up from 549 as of Friday’s update, which saw the average decrease for the first time in more than a month.
The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital inched up to 133 on Monday, and the number in intensive care climbed to 80 – a steep jump from 59 on Friday.
Three new outbreaks were also declared in health-care facilities over the weekend, including two assisted living homes in the Interior Health region. There are now 13 active outbreaks across B.C.’s health-care system, 10 of which are under Interior Health.
There were some positive developments, however. Another 2,970 people recovered from the coronavirus over the weekend, according to the Ministry of Health, pushing the province’s active caseload to 5,056, down from 6,345 last week.
The number of eligible B.C. residents who have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine increased to 76.1 per cent, and the number with at least one dose climbed to 83.2 per cent. A total of 7,336,798 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered across the province so far.
Earlier on Monday, B.C. Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that residents and visitors will soon need to provide proof of vaccination to access some non-essential businesses, services and activities, including indoor sporting events.
The vaccine passport system will begin on Sept. 13, at which point the public will be required to have at least one shot to avoid exclusion. By Oct. 24, both doses will be required.
Officials said there will be no exemptions made for people who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons, or for those who choose not because of their religious beliefs.
“The science is clear,” Henry said. “When you are vaccinated it means that you are less likely to get infected, if you are infected you shed virus for a shorter period of time, you’re less likely to transmit to other people, and you’re much less likely to have a severe illness that leads to hospitalization.”
Officials also began providing more information on breakthrough COVID-19 cases on Monday, something they are expected to begin doing on a regular basis. Of the 3,701 infections identified from Aug. 11 to 17, a whopping 71 per cent involved people who were unvaccinated, while 16 per cent involved people who were partially vaccinated and 13 per cent involved people who were fully vaccinated.
The vast majority of hospitalizations also involved unvaccinated patients. Of the 113 hospitalizations that took place from Aug. 10 to 16, 84 per cent of patients were unvaccinated, compared to five per cent and 11 per cent who were partially vaccinated or fully vaccinated, respectively.