COVID-19 update for May 17: First of four drop-in clinics in Surrey opens today | B.C. sending vaccine appointment invites to everyone age 18+ | When COVID-19 anxiety stops making sense

Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C.

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Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for May 17, 2021.

We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on in B.C. right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly throughout the day, with developments added as they happen.

Check back here for more updates throughout the day. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.


As of the latest figures given on May 14:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 138,304 (5,548 active cases)
• New cases since May 13: 494
• Total deaths: 1,634 (two new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 387
• Intensive care: 141
• Total vaccinations: 2,393,265 doses administered; 124,880 second doses
• Recovered from acute infection: 130,953
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 5


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IN-DEPTH:COVID-19: Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus


COVID-19: Here’s everything you need to know about the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Here’s how to get your vaccination shot in B.C.

COVID-19: Afraid of needles? Here’s how to overcome your fear and get vaccinated

COVID-19: Five things to know about the P1 variant spreading in B.C.

COVID-19: Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus in 2021

COVID-19: Have you been exposed? Here are all B.C. public health alerts

COVID-19 at B.C. schools: Here are the school district exposure alerts

COVID-19: Avoid these hand sanitizers that are recalled in Canada

COVID-19: Here’s where to get tested in Metro Vancouver

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool


3 p.m. – Health officials are set to share latest figures on COVID-19 in B.C.

Health officials are expected to update the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries across the province.

6 a.m. – Drop-in clinic opens at Bear Creek Park in Surrey today

Fraser Health is opening four neighbourhood COVID-19 vaccination drop-in clinics in Surrey this week, starting today.

The clinics will be held at:

  • Bear Creek Park (13750 88 Ave.), from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Monday and Tuesday;
  • Surrey Sport and Leisure (16555 Fraser Highway), from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Saturday and Sunday

The clinics, which targets high-transmission neighbourhoods, will dispense Pfizer/Moderna vaccines, and are open to all Surrey residents 18 and older.


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The first 1,000 Surrey residents to arrive each day will receive wristbands from organizers and a same-day appointment.

6 a.m. – All registered British Columbians can expect to receive vaccine appointment invites starting Sunday

B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine bookings are now open to every adult aged 18 and older in B.C.

Starting 7 p.m. Sunday, everyone who has registered online can expect to get an invitation to book an appointment at a vaccination clinic.

If you have not registered, registration can be completed online at, by telephone through a provincial call centre at 1-833-838-2323 (between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.) or in-person at the nearest Service B.C. location.

As of Friday, nearly 2.4 million doses of the vaccines had been administered in the province, about 125,000 of those were second doses.

12 a.m. – British Columbians don’t yet know how widespread the highly-contagious B.1.617 variant has become

British Columbians will have to wait until Wednesday before learning how widespread the highly-contagious B.1.617 variant of concern has become in the province.

On May 10, the World Health Organization upgraded B. 1.617 from a variant of interest to a variant of concern.

This came as the mutation wreaked havoc in India, with hundreds of thousands of new cases being reported every day and hospitals overwhelmed since becoming widespread in March.

Epidemiologists have also raised concern that the sheer scale of the outbreak in India may induce additional virus mutations, potentially prolonging the calamity for India and the rest of the world.


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The variant has been in B.C. since at least the start of April.

On April 21, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported that 39 cases of B.1.617 had been identified in B.C. through genome sequencing of positive COVID-19 test results.

Henry said that while these cases had been identified at the start of April, they were not reported because the B.1.617 was only a variant of interest at that point.

Henry has provided no update on B.1.617 cases since. There was also no COVID-19 update provided over the weekend in B.C. — the only province in Canada that only provides data five days a week.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control releases a “situation report” every week, but it reports on the week or two before the report is released.

— David Carrigg

3:30 a.m. – ‘Unjustified fears’: When COVID-19 anxiety stops making sense

The COVID-19 variants, it was roundly said, were attacking the bodies of young people with unprecedented ferocity.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the U.K. variant had been “proven to be more dangerous in children and young people.” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe just this week said that the variants are “shown to be more dangerous to young people.”

But that’s wrong: The variants are more transmissible and have landed more young people in hospital due to  more cases, but there’s no clear evidence they’re deadlier or make people sicker. “We did not identify an association of the variant with severe disease,” reads a recent study in The Lancet which followed a few hundred patients hospitalized with the B.1.1.7  variant — the so-called U.K. variant, because it was first identified there.


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It is far from the first time that public fears about COVID-19 did not match the reality on the ground. B.C. anesthesiologist Pooya Kazemi is one of a community of Canadian doctors actively criticizing overzealous lockdown measures. As he told National Post, “there is definitely a huge mismatch between what the literature shows and how people are behaving.”

North America is now definitively entering the final days of COVID-19. Even in Canada — with ongoing third waves in both Ontario and Alberta — deaths remain way down from their January highs and mass vaccination is rapidly shielding whole sections of the population from lethal harm. But as our pandemic deliverance approaches, physicians and researchers are now warning of a new public health challenge: When normalcy arrives, many may refuse to accept it.

— National Post


LOCAL RESOURCES for COVID-19 information

Here are a number of information and landing pages for COVID-19 from various health and government agencies.

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool

Vancouver Coastal Health – Information on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

HealthLink B.C. – Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page

B.C. Centre for Disease Control – Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update

World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

– With files from The Canadian Press


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