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Rate of COVID transmission on Island 'cause for some concern': health minister

Ninety-six new COVID-19 cases were reported in Island Health on Friday, along with two additional deaths. There are 646 known active cases in the region.
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British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix: The province is "ahead of the curve" on recommendations by a national advisory group that Canadians 50 and older get a COVID-19 booster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Island Health has the second highest rate of COVID-19 transmission of the province’s five health authorities, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Friday.

“There is cause for some concern,” he said, urging Islanders to get vaccinated if they haven’t already done so and to take booster shots when eligible.

Ninety-six new COVID-19 cases were reported in Island Health on Friday, along with two additional deaths. There are 646 known active cases in the region.

B.C. reported a total of 405 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, along with six deaths, bringing the province’s active case count to 3,071.

The Island has consistently had one of the lowest rates of transmission throughout the pandemic.

But the Cowichan Valley North, Comox Valley and Vancouver Island North areas have seen high rates of transmission over the past week, with an average of more than 20 new cases per 100,000 population.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control said there have been 200 new cases in Vancouver Island North in the past week. The area also includes part of the mainland. Central Vancouver Island has had 240 cases, and Vancouver Island South has had 113.

Dix said the province is “ahead of the curve” on recommendations by a national advisory group that Canadians ages 50 and older get a COVID-19 booster, with 470,000 people having already received a third shot.

The recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization gives provinces and territories the go-ahead to expand the limited booster shot campaign.

Dix said B.C. ramped up plans to accommodate a surge for third doses after many residents received second shots in July and August, putting the six-month time frame for a booster in January and February.

Dix said most of those who have had their third shot have done so within the six-month time limit suggested by the national committee.

“I’m very pleased with how it’s going, practically speaking,” he said. “The fact that Ontario and Alberta have announced more recently what their plans are, and we put our plan in place some time ago, is great. I think their plans align with what we are doing as well.”

The value of the third shot is evident by the declining number of outbreaks in seniors facilities, which dropped to two on Friday from 23 on Nov. 1, Dix said.

However, the Health Ministry said later Friday that one more seniors home had been added to the list for outbreaks, bringing to three such facilities taking extra precautions because of the infection.

St. Paul’s and Ridge Meadows hospitals also have COVID-19 outbreaks.