Canada

B.C. reports 849 new COVID-19 cases as hospitalization numbers continue to break records

British Columbia reported 849 new cases of COVID-19 and one death on Tuesday as the number of people in hospital with the disease continues to break records.

The province also recorded one new death, bringing the province’s COVID-19 death toll to 1,539.

Another 15 people are in hospital with COVID-19, bringing total hospitalizations to 456, a record high. Of those, 148 patients are in intensive care — up 10 from Monday — also a record.

There have been a total of 120,889 COVID-19 cases in the province since the start of the pandemic, 9,145 of which are active. More than 13,600 people are in self-isolation due to possible exposure to the coronavirus.

The province announced there are two new outbreaks at Dawson Creek and District Hospital and Surrey Memorial Hospital.

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The province said 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, 88,263 of which are second doses.

The numbers come after the province presented its budget, which includes nearly $6 billion in new spending to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

BC NDP to table fiscal plan amid financial uncertainties from pandemic

Mike Farnworth, the minister of public safety and solicitor general, said Tuesday that the province is examining the use of periodic roadblocks to limit travel in the fight against COVID-19.

He said the checks would be set up at locations like ferry terminals or along major highways leading out of Metro Vancouver.

Read more: B.C. budget sets aside nearly $6 billion for COVID support, forecasts $8.1-billion deficit

In a statement, Farnworth says the goal is to discourage recreational travel, but there will be no random, individual stops. More information is expected later in the week.

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Police will wait for an order under the Emergency Program Act and any associated guidelines before proceeding, says the ministry.

Read more: British Columbia will not conduct random individual stops in COVID travel crackdown

The government has been working with the tourism industry and BC Ferries to cancel bookings that have been made and to not accept new ones from people living outside their intended destination, B.C. Premier John Horgan said Monday.

B.C. expands AstraZeneca vaccine program and lowers age to residents 40+

Measures that ban indoor dining and adult activities at gyms have also been extended for another five weeks, matching the length of the travel restrictions, which will continue until at least May 24.

But the province is not immediately increasing circuit-breaker funding for the hard-hit hospitality sector, following an extension of bans on in-restaurant dining and social gatherings through the May long weekend.

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The new cash includes nearly $2.5 billion in ongoing support for small and medium-sized businesses and support for the health-care system.

The province is also allocating $3.25 billion in pandemic contingency funding that could be used to help sectors such as hospitality and tourism based on virus transmission rates over the next few weeks.

On Monday, the province announced that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is now available to people aged 40 and older at pharmacies across the province.

The province is also setting up targeted AstraZeneca vaccine clinics in high-risk communities that have experienced high rates of COVID-19 transmission.

— With files from Richard Zussman and The Canadian Press

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