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B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

B.C. public health officials reported 443 new COVID-19 in the 24 hours up to Saturday, 424 up to Sunday and 424 on Monday, the fourth day in a row with fewer than 500 new cases.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported 14 additional deaths over the weekend. The number of people in hospital with coronavirus-related conditions declined from 387 on Friday to 350 as of Monday, with 132 in intensive care.

Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix warned that while infections are declining, the pressure on hospitals continues to be significant. There are 128 additional “surge beds” in use to treat COVID-19 patients, and 14 critical care surge beds reserved to response to the pandemic, Dix said May 17.

Henry said the restrictions on non-essential travel and indoor dining will stay in place until after the May 24 long weekend, and are being reviewed. “After this we will be able to move on and move ahead,” Henry said.

The vaccine program delivered more than 28,000 doses on Sunday, as the network of community clinics opened up bookings to all adults aged 18 as of Monday. There are also targeted clinics in Surrey, one of the high-risk areas. Of the 1,360 weekend cases, 861 were confirmed in the Fraser Health region, 291 in Vancouver Coastal, 126 in Interior Health, 47 in Northern Health and 36 on Vancouver Island over the three days.

Henry said B.C. has reserved 20,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine for second doses for people who received it the first time, and the timing for offering second doses is being considered. She said studies from the United Kingdom and elsewhere show protection from a single dose continues to increase for up to 12 weeks, and the AstraZeneca on hand in B.C. can be stored up to the end of June for further applications.

“We know that it works better if you wait a little bit longer,” Henry said.

RELATED: B.C. prepare ‘Restart 2.0’ as COVID-19 infections decline

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