We hope you found this article interesting, enough to read to the bottom. Help us publish more in 2022.

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past two years, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

We’re on a mission to add 650 new monthly supporters to our ranks to help us have another year of impactful journalism – will you join us?

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Help us hit our year-end target of 650 new monthly supporters and join Tyee Builders today.
We’re looking for 650 new monthly supporters to fund our newsroom – are you one of them?

Small independent news media are having a moment – we’re gaining supporters, winning awards, and publishing more impactful journalism than ever. We’re starting to see glimmers of a hopeful future for independent journalism in Canada.

The Tyee works for our readers, because we are funded by you. We don’t lock our articles behind a paywall, and we focus all of our energy into publishing original, in-depth journalism that you won’t read anywhere else. It’s our full-time job because readers pay us to do it.

Over the last two years, we’ve been able to double our staff team and publish more than ever. We’re gearing up for another year and we need to know how much we are working with. Thousands of Tyee readers have signed up to support our independent newsroom through our Tyee Builders program, and we’re inviting you to join.

From now until Dec. 31, we’re aiming to bring aboard 650 new monthly supporters to The Tyee to help us do even more in 2022.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Help us hit our year-end target of 650 new monthly supporters and join Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
Get our free newsletter
Sign Up
News
  |  
Coronavirus
  |  
BC Politics

BC Extends COVID-19 Restrictions Indefinitely

More time is needed to increase vaccinations and testing for variant strains, but progress is being made.

Moira Wyton 5 Feb 2021 | TheTyee.ca

Moira Wyton is The Tyee’s health reporter. Follow her @moirawyton or reach her here. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

Restrictions on social gatherings and public events will continue indefinitely as British Columbia ramps up vaccinations and efforts to track variant COVID-19 cases, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said today.

Overall cases numbers are stable or trending down in all health regions, Henry reported, and reproductive rates — the number of new cases stemming from each original infection — are hovering slightly below one on a provincewide basis.

But as hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline, Henry offered some hope.

If people protect the progress made so far, she said, then restrictions could be eased to allow socializing among one’s “safe six” contacts, sports and some in-person faith services to begin as early as the end of this month.

“We are bending our curve, slowly and steadily. But we need to protect the progress we have made since the start of this year,” she said.

Henry flagged an issue of “great concern,” noting that the number of cases involving two more easily transmissible variants, originally identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa, have doubled from 14 to 28 in the last few weeks.

Of the nine cases of the South African variant, five have no identified exposure link, suggesting there is wider community transmission. No cases of the variant first identified in Brazil have been identified.

“This is something we are watching,” Henry said.

“Right now, we need to stay the path, we need to buy time... to understand whether these variants of concern are going to affect transmission in our community and... to get our immunization program back up to full speed.”

Variants result when the virus multiplies, and its genetic material mutates slightly in the process.

Sometimes these mutations can lead to these emerging variants being more easily transmitted.

There is some evidence they may cause more serious illness, and some early data suggests both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines could be less effective on the South African variant.

But Henry says it’s difficult to know yet if the variants cause more serious illnesses.

This uncertainty raises the risk that rapid spread could take hold even faster if restrictive measures don’t remain in place.

“So far those variants seem to be relatively contained, but it is concerning to us that we have transmission of these variants in our communities,” said Henry.

“If we slip a little bit, the potential for transmission goes up, and that is of particular concern right now.”

Currently about 750 positive cases are tested for the variants’ genetic sequences each week.

But Henry said the BC Centre for Disease Control is developing an indicator test the province hopes to use to screen all positive COVID-19 samples for any variant. If the test is positive, a full genetic sequencing would be done to determine which variant is involved.

Maintaining restrictions will buy time for the province to ramp up variant testing and catch up on its vaccination plan, which has been slowed by delayed shipments from both vaccine manufacturers.

“This will allow us to respond quickly and rapidly to any surge in variants of concern that may come up quickly,” said Henry. “Just one superspreader event can quickly counteract our progress and work.”

851px version of COVIDCurveBCHalfYear.jpg
Chart via the BC Centre for Disease Control.

But cases, hospitalizations and deaths among seniors, particularly those over 80 and in long-term care, are decreasing, signalling the impact of prioritizing residents for vaccination.

Henry said 87 per cent of eligible long-term care residents and 89 per cent of staff have been vaccinated. The majority of those who have not are currently ill and will be eligible for their first dose when they have recovered.

So far, 525 of 26,895 vaccinated residents and 5,676 of 34,658 staff have had their second doses.

“Reduction of vaccine supplies creates some challenges,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said. “It’s very important we finish second doses in long-term care, so we can take the other sets of steps elsewhere.”

Adults aged 20-29 continue to make up a disproportionate number of cases, which Henry attributed to social gatherings and workplace exposures.

But school-aged children, particularly under 10, continue to transmit the virus and become ill at a lower rate.

Henry and Dix said the numbers are promising, but B.C. must continue its hard push to reduce transmission so that variants can be tracked and vaccines distributed to those who need them most.

“The difference is still down to each of us,” said Dix.

Henry said progress is being made toward eased restrictions.

“We all want to get to the day where these orders are lifted,” she said. “We’re not quite there yet, but we are getting closer every day.”  [Tyee]

Read more: Coronavirus, BC Politics

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Do not:

  •  Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully, threaten, name-call or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, downvote, or flag suspect activity
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities

Do:

  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls and flag violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Stay on topic
  • Connect with each other

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll