The B.C. government is tracking COVID-19 in younger children and seniors care as the fourth wave of the pandemic is affecting schools and senior care.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry released the latest test results by age Tuesday, and announced that booster shots for seniors in long-term care and assisted living are being delivered starting next week.
The increase in community infection from the Delta variant of the coronavirus is showing up in schools, particularly in age five to 11, the students who aren’t yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in Canada.
Henry said the research shows that areas with high community vaccination such as Vancouver Island also show lower infections in school-aged children, and lower immunization rates in the eastern Fraser Health region are also reflected in school-aged children. New restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings have been ordered, including Hope, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission and Agassiz-Harrison.
Deaths from COVID-19 have also risen in B.C. in recent weeks, and Henry said even twice-vaccinated seniors are at risk of infection and serious illness. Booster third doses are being administered in long-term care and assisted living along with seasonal influenza shots starting next week, Henry said Sept. 28.
Dix said the pressure on hospitals from COVID-19 has affected all five health regions, and more than 1,100 scheduled surgeries have been delayed since infection rates began to climb in August and forced redeployment of hospital beds and staff. Areas with lower vaccination rates are clearly where the hospitals are struggling, he said.
“And in the pandemic of the unvaccinated, that puts everyone at risk,” Dix said.
Henry said the B.C. Centre for Disease Control is watching the school situation closely, but isn’t moving to extend the school mask mandate to include children from kindergarten to grade three. Daily symptom checks, restriction on mingling between grades and improving ventilation in schools is helping, and getting community immunization to higher levels is the most important step, she said.