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15 new cases of COVID-19 on Island; top doctor says Nigerian variant identified in B.C. – Times Colonist



British Columbia’s top doctor says 47 cases of COVID-19 variants have been identified in the province, including one believed to be linked to Nigeria.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said 29 cases are related to a variant first identified in the United Kingdom, 17 are associated with South Africa and the latest one involves a person who travelled to Nigeria and returned to the Interior Health region.

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Lab teams in B.C. are working with their counterparts across Canada and internationally to get a better understanding of whether the Nigerian variant that has been identified elsewhere is also easily transmissible or causes more severe illness, Henry said.

Variants of concern do transmit more quickly and cause more severe illness, but Henry said it’s reassuring that only three cases were recently identified among 3,099 cases that were tested for the variants.

Henry reported 445 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, for a total of 72,750 cases in the province to date. Fifteen of the new cases were in the Island Health region, which now has 244 known active cases. A total of 1,951 cases have been confirmed in the region.

Ten more deaths were reported, bringing the total in B.C. to 1,288 fatalities since the start of the pandemic.

Henry urged residents to maintain restrictions on gatherings during the Family Day long weekend, which coincides with Lunar New Year celebrations, but said colder weather may reduce travel, meaning “Mother Nature is going to be on our side.”

“We are trending in the right direction, pushing our curve down, but slowly. And we need to ensure our success sticks, which means staying the course with our layers of protection and continuing to follow all of the public health restrictions and guidance.”

Island Health also asked residents to limit social gatherings and avoid unnecessary travel outside their communities.

“We understand the urge to gather with loved ones, especially on Family Day; however, even small gatherings present a significant risk,” a statement from Island Health said. “Contact tracing investigations continue to show that COVID-19 is spreading on Vancouver Island in places and situations where people gather.”

A new COVID-19 exposure has been reported at Ladysmith Secondary, with a possible exposure date of Feb. 5. Exposure refers to a single confirmed case of an illness at a facility.

Island Health conducts contact tracing after each case and lets people know if they might have been exposed.

Henry said first doses of COVID-19 vaccines in long-term care and assisted-living facilities have meant a dramatic drop in outbreaks at facilities across the province.

Second doses still must be administered to most residents and staff, she said, but there’s clear evidence that first doses have slowed down transmission of the virus.

An increasing number of vaccine doses are expected to arrive in B.C. next week and onward after a slowdown in deliveries, she said.

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Quebec reports 737 COVID-19 cases, nine deaths as variant cases jump –



MONTREAL — The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants in Quebec jumped by more than 100 on Sunday, on the eve of a ramp-up in the province’s mass vaccination plan.

The province is reporting 137 confirmed cases involving variants, with most of them identified as the B.1.1.7 mutation first detected in the United Kingdom. 

While most of the cases are in Montreal, the province’s public health institute reports there are also 40 cases of the variant originally found in South Africa in the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region.

A further 1,083 cases remain under investigation and are listed as “presumptive.” 

Quebec’s health minister described the overall situation as “encouraging” as the province reported 737 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths due to the pandemic.

Four of the deaths occurred in the last 24 hours, while the rest took place earlier. 

Hospitalizations rose by two to 601, while intensive care numbers rose by five to 117.

Christian Dube noted that the situation in the province has been stable for the last week, but asked Quebecers not to let their guard down as spring break begins.

“It’s not the moment to relax our efforts,” he wrote on Twitter.

The province will kick off its mass vaccination program in earnest on Monday, with several large clinics in the Montreal area opening their doors to residents age 80 and older who have booked appointments through the province’s website.

In the rest of the province, the vaccination appointments are being accepted for those born in or before 1936. 

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Saturday that the start of the mass vaccination campaign was giving him “a lot of hope,” even as he expressed concern about spring break week and the spread of new variants.

He urged Quebecers to remain vigilant for the coming weeks to allow the province to vaccinate more people, and to wait for immunity to fully develop in those who have received a shot.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada – Virden Empire Advance



The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):

5:55 p.m.

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Alberta has recorded 301 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, along with three additional deaths.

According to the province’s website, 29 of its new cases come from the virus variatn first identified in the United Kingdom.

The province has 4,584 active COVID-19 cases and 250 patients currently hospitalized with the virus.

Alberta is reporting a test positivity rate of four per cent.

4:20 p.m.

Prince Edward Island is entering a 72-hour lockdown starting at midnight as the province struggles to contain an outbreak of COVID-19.

The short-term public health order was announced this afternoon as officials reported five new infections of the disease, for a total of 17 cases in the past five days.

The new infections include two males, both in their 20s, and three females, two in their 20s and one in her 50s.

Health officials have identified two clusters of COVID-19 in the cities of Summerside and Charlottetown, and say it’s possible the island has community spread of the virus as many infections cannot be linked to travel.

3 p.m.

Saskatchewan is reporting 141 new COVID-19 cases today, but no new deaths linked to the virus.

The province says its seven-day average of new cases is 146, which it says works out to 11.9 new cases per 100,000 people.

There were 1,662 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the province on Saturday, raising the total number to 78,226 delivered so far.

2:05 p.m.

Manitoba is reporting two new deaths in people with COVID-19.

One was in his 80s, the other was in her 90s, and both were from the Winnipeg health region.

The province says there were 50 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed as of 9:30 a.m. this morning.

Most of Manitoba’s new cases are in the Winnipeg and Northern health regions, with each recording 21 new infections.

So far, the province says it has recorded five cases of the virus variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

1:50 p.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 in the province today.

Health officials say the cases are spread out across the province, with the central, eastern and northern regions each recording one new infection.

Officials say one of the cases is a close contact of a previous case, while two are related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.

Nova Scotia has 38 active cases of COVID-19, with two people currently in hospital.

1 p.m.

Health authorities in Newfoundland and Labrador have diagnosed seven new cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the total number of active infections to 262.

The province says all seven cases are in the Eastern Health region, which includes St. John’s.

Officials say four of the infections were identified in individuals aged 20 to 39, while one patient was under 20 years old, one was aged 40 to 49 and one was aged 50 to 59.

The new cases identified include three females and four males.

Officials say there are currently 10 people in hospital with COVID-19, with six of those patients in intensive care.

11:30 a.m.

Quebec is reporting 737 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths due to the virus.

Four of the deaths occurred in the last 24 hours, while the rest took place earlier.

Hospitalizations rose by two to 601. Of those, 117 patients are in intensive care, which is five more than a day earlier.

The province gave 12,469 doses of vaccine on Saturday for a total of more than 432,000 since the pandemic began.

11 a.m.

Health officials in New Brunswick say a 90-year-old resident of an adult residential facility in Edmundston has died as a result of underlying complications including COVID-19.

The case brings the total number of deaths in the province related to the novel coronavirus disease to 27.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says the loss of another New Brunswicker is a sad moment for the province and is something that never gets easier.

The number of active cases in New Brunswick stands at 38, with one patient currently hospitalized in intensive care.

10:45 a.m.

Ontario is expanding its list of vaccine recipients to include those experiencing homelessness even as it passes a bleak new milestone in the fight against COVID-19.

The province has officially logged more than 300,000 COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic and is just shy of 7,000 total deaths.

Ontario added 1,062 new infections to its count today for a total of 300,816, while 20 new deaths bring the overall toll to 6,980.

Meanwhile Toronto says it willbegin vaccinating residents of its shelter system this week after getting the green light from the province over the weekend.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021.

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Cautious optimism over downward COVID trend – Winnipeg Free Press



For the first time since the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic gripped Manitoba, the test positivity rate in Winnipeg has dropped below three per cent — a goalpost the province’s top doctor said long ago indicates widespread community transmission.

Public health officials announced two new deaths, 50 additional cases of the virus and 1,866 tests complete as of Sunday morning.

A man in his 80s and a woman in her 90s, both from Winnipeg, are among the now 895 Manitobans who have died from the virus.

The total number of lab-confirmed cases in Manitoba sits at 31,859, of which 1,194 are active.

A total of 192 people are in hospital, while 26 are in the intensive care unit, with 72 and 11 of those cases accounting for active COVID-19 patients, respectively.

No new cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, of which there are five cases to date, were reported over the weekend.

The majority of new cases reported are in Manitoba’s north and capital; in both regions, there were 21 new cases.

Also Sunday, the province reported the current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 3.7 per cent provincially and 2.7 per cent in Winnipeg.

Epidemiologist Cynthia Carr called the latest figures “good news,” especially on the variant front.

“I’m always cautious about reacting to one day of data, particularly over a weekend. I like to look at how many people are tested and what the positivity rate is, but certainly, the trend that we’re seeing is a continued, real reduction that we’re sustaining,” said Carr, founder of Winnipeg-based EPI Research Inc.

Manitoba only began publishing the test positivity rate — the percentage of people who have tested positive for the virus of the total number tested during a five-day period — in Winnipeg in late October, saying it is less reliable than the provincial rate because of the smaller sample size.

At that point, the figure was more than triple the current percentage, at 9.9 per cent.

Winnipeg’s test positivity rate peaked at 14.9 per cent in early December.

In the early days of the pandemic, provincial chief medical officer Dr. Brent Roussin warned of the prospect of a three per cent test positivity rate, which he said would signify widespread community transmission and trigger increased restrictions.

Last week, Roussin said the province is considering a further rollback of restrictions when the current public health order expires Friday.

Twitter: @macintoshmaggie

Maggie Macintosh

Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.

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