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2 Students at Mount Pearl Senior High Test Positive for COVID-19, In-Person Classes Cancelled – VOCM

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COVID-19 has begun to penetrate the school system in metro.

Four new cases were confirmed in the province over the weekend, but it was the three-hour delay before yesterday’s update that had many on edge.

The daily numbers are usually released around 2:00 p.m. but it wasn’t until 5:00 p.m. yesterday that a single new case was confirmed. Officials later said the COVID situation is constantly changing and it can take time to ensure the information is accurate.

Two persons at Mount Pearl Senior High have tested positive so the school is preparing to switch to online instruction as Public Health conducts contact tracing. Extra-curricular activities have been put on hold, and Eastern Health is working with the school to determine who should be tested first.

Here’s what we know from Public Health: Sunday’s case involves a female in the Eastern Health region under the age of 19 with no source identified yet. The same goes for a female who tested positive Saturday in the Eastern Health region.

Officials also say the risk of infection for people who visited the Bigs restaurant in Mount Pearl between January 21st and February 4th is now considered very low.

Meanwhile, a temporary drive-through COVID clinic has been set up at 50 Mundy Pond Road, next to the Mews Centre, to meet an increase in demand for testing. Hours have also been extended for drive-through clinics at the Janeway and Waterford Hospital, by appointment only.

As well, anyone who was on Air Canada Flight 7484 from Toronto to Deer Lake on January 30th should call 811 for testing in connection with a travel-related case Saturday in the Western Health region.

And still, with COVID news, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has called a media briefing for this morning to discuss the virus, though a time has yet to be announced.

The investigation into the source of a cluster in the Eastern Health region is still ongoing, with six cases confirmed to date.

There are now 16 active cases in the province following two new recoveries in the Central Health region, and no one is in hospital with the virus.

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Here's how everyone in B.C. could get a vaccine shot by Canada Day – CBC.ca

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The B.C. government’s vaccine page still says the rollout of first doses for all people in the province won’t be finished until September. 

But in the past week, a number of things have changed to quickly accelerate that timeline

“I’m very very hopeful that come summer we will have met our objectives,” said Premier John Horgan on Friday.

Horgan’s comments came the same week Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said everyone in the province could receive a first shot by early July, or even late June. 

The B.C. government says an updated rollout plan to help people understand those claims is coming. In the meantime, here’s a look at why those timelines are feasible — and what could happen to scuttle them.  

As a single dose COVID-19 vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson product will be especially helpful for people who sometimes have difficulty accessing health care, says Dr. Lisa Bryski, a retired ER doctor in Winnipeg. 1:23

How we get to 4 million 

Three things happened this week to allow B.C.’s timeline for first doses to go from the end of September to the beginning of July. 

The first was the decision to extend the maximum amount of time between giving the first and second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines from six weeks to four months.

The other two events took place on Friday: the approval by Health Canada of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and an additional 3.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the next three months. 

What does all that mean?

There are around 3.8 million British Columbians who are eligible for the vaccine but have yet to receive a shot. Between March and the end of June, Canada has been promised approximately 30.5 million vaccine doses from Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca. 

The federal government is distributing vaccines according to population, and approximately 13.22 per cent of the country lives in B.C. Do the math, and that adds up to just over four million doses coming to the province by the end of June. 

That’s enough to give a first dose to every adult in the province who can receive it, and complete the second dose for the approximately 200,000 who have only received one so far. And in theory, it would allow new supply from July onwards to be reserved for second doses.  

What could go wrong?

It’s an estimate, relying on companies providing the amount of vaccine promised to Canada at promised schedules. 

And it’s contingent on the B.C. government creating an operation that will have the capacity to vaccinate more than 50,000 people a day at its peak.

“In April … we’ll have a lot more information on whether we’re able to vaccinate the 10,000 to 20,000 a day first, and then scale it up rapidly to a much higher number. This is no mean feat,” said Mahesh Nagarajan, a professor of operations and logistics at UBC’s Sauder School of Business.  

“Clarity on the hiring plan, the location plan, the processes that are going to happen, the call centre plan, the IT plan … those are the things we’re waiting to see.”

At the same time, the available supply doesn’t factor in the amount that could be provided by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca in the coming months, beyond the 500,000 or so doses of AstraZeneca provided this week. Those doses could accelerate the timeline further, or give contingencies in case there are delays to Pfizer or Moderna supplies. 

They’re all reasons why Health Minister Adrian Dix hasn’t yet committed to a new target date, saying the government has been working on new timelines given the new information this week. 

“We’re hopeful that we could get everyone who wants their first dose by July, and maybe that time can move up now that we’ve seen more vaccines,” Dix said.  

And he cautioned that in the meantime, the province continues to see a rise in transmission.

“Things will get better in the summer, but right now people absolutely have to follow the rules.”


CBC British Columbia is hosting a town hall on March 10 to put your COVID-19 vaccine questions to expert guests, including Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. You can find the details at cbc.ca/ourshot. Have a question about the vaccine, or the rollout plan in B.C.? Email us: bcasks@cbc.ca

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Manitoba gets ducks in a row for ramped-up vaccination effort – Winnipeg Free Press

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The race is on for the province to nearly double its capacity and deliver 20,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses a day next month.

In just four weeks, vaccine deliveries are expected to ramp up significantly, but on Friday, the province only had the capacity to dole out about 12,500 lifesaving shots.

The Manitoba government has set a goal to give out 20,000 jabs daily in order to keep up with the minimum 1.5 million doses it will receive from the federal government from April to June.

Considering recent changes that allow second doses to be delayed as many as four months, Johanu Botha, operational lead for the COVID-19 vaccine task force, said he is certain the province will make good on its promise and provide a single shot to all adult Manitobans as early as May 18.

The new timeline is contingent on the province receiving a steady and high supply of vaccines from the federal government, Botha said.

If the province gets a steady supply of vaccines from the federal government it can administer 20,000 doses a day, says Johanu Botha, operational lead for the COVID-19 vaccine task force. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press files)

If the province gets a steady supply of vaccines from the federal government it can administer 20,000 doses a day, says Johanu Botha, operational lead for the COVID-19 vaccine task force. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press files)

“If that’s the case, and our system is up and running, as it will be, to administer 20,000 doses a day come the first of April, we will have all eligible Manitobans vaccinated,” Botha said. “We’re confident we can do this, if the supply arrives more consistently.”

The vaccine task force had earlier estimated all eligible Manitobans would get a shot by the end of August in the best-case scenario.

The expedited schedule follows a recommendation by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization that provinces delay second doses as long as the vaccine supply is scarce.

Attention now turns to the province’s ability to deliver.

Heavy hitters: mass vaccination clinics

Manitoba plans to use high-volume vaccination clinics — dubbed super-sites — to give roughly 14,000 shots a day beginning in April.

Right now, the province has three such clinics capable of administering 6,499 shots a day, including the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg, the Keystone Centre in Brandon, and two locations in Thompson: a clinic at the recreation centre, and one at “Vaxport,” the provincial air hangar. A fourth super-site clinic will open Monday at the former Selkirk and District General Hospital, with an estimated daily capacity of 1,000 shots.

A fifth clinic will open at the Access Event Centre in Morden. An opening date has yet to be announced and the province has yet to confirm how many doses the clinic will provide daily.

Where the balance of doses will be offered — as many as 6,000 daily — remained uncertain Friday.

Provincial plans have called for a total of 13 super-sites, including two more in Winnipeg, a third for the north in either Flin Flon or The Pas, and one additional site in Southern Health and Interlake-Eastern, to be open in April. So far, no additional clinics have been announced.

Recently, Botha said the search for suitable facilities for mass clinics has been challenged due to strict infrastructure requirements for infection prevention and control.

Gisella Greschner, 97, receives her COVID-19 vaccination at the convention centre in Winnipeg, one of three of the province's so-called supersites. (Kevin King / Pool files)

KEVIN KING/WINNIPEG SUN

Gisella Greschner, 97, receives her COVID-19 vaccination at the convention centre in Winnipeg, one of three of the province’s so-called supersites. (Kevin King / Pool files)

“So what we’re looking at in terms of what will help us leap up to 20,000, it may be another super-site or two, but I think probably what will get us there at this point will be an array of pop-up sites,” Botha said. “We will continue on with building up to our around 13 super-sites, but that timeline… is impacted by the appropriate infection prevention and control measures.”

In the meantime, officials said the clinic at the convention centre will be expanded to towards meeting the April goal.

When it comes to staffing, the province says it has hired 1,647 immunizers — more than enough to deliver 14,000 doses a day at super-sites. Immunizers can also be assigned for post-immunization observation, as clinical leads or clinic managers, based on experience, the province said.

Earlier this week, 165 people were added to the provincial vaccine workforce, for a total of 2,224 staff. The province said it continues to recruit for clinic navigators outside Winnipeg and is in the process of hiring 50 students to begin working full-time as of April 1 to fill positions across Manitoba. Recruitment continues for immunizers in southern Manitoba.

Familiar and convenient: pharmacies and clinics

The province has recruited enough pharmacists and physicians to give up to 5,000 daily vaccine doses — a quarter of the planned capacity — through community clinics and pharmacies.

On average, individual clinics and pharmacies will give up to 20 doses a day throughout the spring.

However, physicians and pharmacists will only be able to hit the targeted 5,000 daily doses if enough fridge-stable vaccines are sent to Manitoba.

Currently, only the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines can be stored between 2 C and 8 C, with the former recommended for people under 65 years of age. The national advisory clinic has not provided recommendations on how the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be used.

Barret Procyshyn, pharmacist and co-owner of Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy, said his pharmacy is ready to spring into action when the doses arrive.

The province has recruited pharmacists and physicians to provide up to 5,000 daily vaccine doses through community clinics and pharmacies. (Jessica Hill / The Associated Press files)

CP

The province has recruited pharmacists and physicians to provide up to 5,000 daily vaccine doses through community clinics and pharmacies. (Jessica Hill / The Associated Press files)

It has designated space to offer COVID-19 vaccines, Procyshyn said, and has established an online waiting list where community members can sign up and provide information related to their eligibility.

As eligibility criteria are expanded, Procyshyn said his pharmacy will contact people on the list to offer them appointments. He said they will be able to do between 60 and 80 doses a day.

“It has been a lot of work, but this is a chance for pharmacists and our profession to step up and show that we’re front-line health-care providers,” Procyshyn said. “I think you’re going to see a lot of pharmacists, especially in rural areas, step up to the plate.

“That’s the only way people in these small towns are going to get their vaccines,” he said.

Meanwhile, Doctors Manitoba has prepared its own website to assist the public in connecting with physicians who give COVID-19 vaccines. The website, ManitobaVaccine.ca, will include a list of doctors providing the jabs as clinics open for appointments. Each clinic and pharmacy will book appointments directly for their clients.

Hard to reach: pop-up clinics and immunization teams

An estimated 1,000 doses will be given per day to people who live in congregate settings or in isolated communities, through focused immunization teams and pop-up clinics.

Vaccine booking changes

On Friday, Manitoba’s vaccine task force announced changes to the way vaccine appointments are booked as officials plan to speed up delivery of the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s the latest:

• Manitobans older than 87, and First Nations members older than 67, are eligible to get vaccinated.

• Age eligibility will be expanded in descending order. All Manitobans age 80 and up will likely be eligible to book vaccine appointments next week. Up-to-date eligibility requirements are posted on the government’s website here.

On Friday, Manitoba’s vaccine task force announced changes to the way vaccine appointments are booked as officials plan to speed up delivery of the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s the latest:

• Manitobans older than 87, and First Nations members older than 67, are eligible to get vaccinated.

• Age eligibility will be expanded in descending order. All Manitobans age 80 and up will likely be eligible to book vaccine appointments next week. Up-to-date eligibility requirements are posted on the government’s website here

• Only one appointment will be booked per person as of Friday. (Previously, Manitobans were required to schedule a second-dose appointment before they could receive their first shot).

• Spouses and members of the same household can book their appointments at the same time, as long as they all meet the age requirements. This means they can travel to their appointment together. Only those who are old enough to be eligible can get the vaccine at the same time as their spouse.

• Manitobans who are between 50 to 64 years old and have serious health conditions will be next in line to receive the vaccine, at their doctor’s office or pharmacy. It is not yet possible to book appointments with a doctor or pharmacy, but they will set up their own booking systems. More information will be released when it’s available.

• Currently, the only way to book a vaccine appointment is by calling 1-844-626-8222. Appointments are limited to those who meet the age requirements. A Manitoba health card number is required. A consent form is available online to be printed out and taken to the appointment. Copies of the form are available on site.

• Online booking doesn’t yet exist in Manitoba. The province plans to launch an online booking portal in April.

• Manitobans with vaccine appointments will be directed to their nearest vaccine clinic. Currently, Winnipeg, Brandon and Thompson each have one vaccine clinic. On March 8, a clinic will open in Selkirk. A clinic will open in Morden later this month.

• In response to concerns the vaccine super-site clinics have not been accessible enough for elderly Manitobans, members of the task force said Friday they were working to improve the situation and would place more chairs so people can sit and wait.

• In First Nations communities, vaccine clinics will start being set up later in March to offer the vaccine to everyone over 18.

• Plans are underway for the First Nations clinics. Information on where they will be located and how people can book appointments hasn’t yet been released. People living in or near First Nations will be able to receive the vaccine at their nearest super-site if they don’t want to wait for an immunization team to arrive in their community.

• The First Nations vaccine rollout is also following the province’s plan to deliver all first doses before continuing with the second vaccine dose.

The province says it has the capacity to offer 500 doses a day to people through focused immunization teams.

Currently, immunization teams are tasked with providing shots at assisted-living facilities and seniors homes, as well as at hospitals to immunize long-term patients. Nearly 3,000 residents and patients are scheduled for a vaccine at 70 locations throughout the province next week.

The same immunization teams will eventually go to provincial jails, family violence shelters, homeless shelters and transitional housing, group homes and addictions treatment facilities.

For rural and remote communities that cannot easily access a super-site clinic, the province plans to offer pop-up clinics. As of Friday, pop-up clinics could offer as many as 500 total daily doses.

However, no information has been provided about where pop-up clinics will be staged or when they would open. Churchill, Gillam, Lynn Lake, Leaf Rapids and Grand Rapids have been flagged for pop-up clinics.

danielle.dasilva@freepress.mb.ca

Danielle Da Silva

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Some provinces are speeding up plans to get people inoculated against COVID-19, following the approval of a fourth vaccine and increased supplies.

Those adjusting their timetables for vaccine rollouts include Ontario. The head of the province’s COVID-19 task force, retired general Rick Hillier, said on Friday he hopes everyone who wants a vaccine will get one by the start of summer.

He said all adults in Ontario could receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by June 20 now that extra doses are on their way to Canada.

On Friday, federal officials announced expedited shipments of 3.5 million doses of the COVID-19 shot from Pfizer-BioNTech, the same day Health Canada approved Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate, which is not expected to ship before April.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Pfizer doses originally set to arrive in the summer would instead be delivered over the spring. He said Canada should have eight million doses available of several vaccine types by the end of March.

WATCH | Ontario to accelerate inoculations as vaccine supply ramps up:

Retired general Rick Hillier, head of Ontario’s Vaccine Distribution Task Force, says the addition of two newly approved COVID-19 vaccines will allow the province to ‘crush those timelines’ and get one dose of vaccine into every willing Ontarian who is eligible by June 20. 1:17

Meanwhile, Manitoba announced that all eligible adults in the province could have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by mid-May or the end of June at the latest. 

In New Brunswick, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Friday that with the expected arrival of the province’s first shipment of the two-dose AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine later this month, New Brunswick is pledging to provide one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to every New Brunswicker before the end of June.

Alberta has also revised its estimates around vaccines, with Health Minister Tyler Shandro saying on Thursday that the province expects “to have offered every single adult in the province at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine” by June 30.

What’s happening in Canada

As of 11 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had reported 883,505 cases of COVID-19, with 29,902 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,208.

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin called the federal go-ahead for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine a “positive step forward” on Friday, as health officials geared up for the opening of the first of 10 community inoculation clinics across the province next week.

Rankin confirmed that the province would be adopting a 16-week interval between the first and second doses, so all Nova Scotians who want to be vaccinated will get one shot by the end of June.

The province reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday.

WATCH | Canadian researchers looking for ways to cut down PPE waste:

Across Canada, research engineers and physicians are developing recycling systems and pushing for more sustainable options to reduce hospital waste. That’s because the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge in use of personal protective equipment, which has meant more plastics ending up in landfills. The federal government estimates 63,000 tonnes of COVID-19 related PPE ended up as waste last year. 2:01

New Brunswick reported four new cases on Friday, while Prince Edward Island reported one new COVID-19 case.

Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 on Friday and announced that four testing centres will be accepting appointments for asymptomatic people to get tested.

Ontario, which reported 990 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and six additional deaths, is planning to loosen restrictions next week in Toronto and Peel Region, lifting a strict stay-at-home order imposed earlier this year.

WATCH | Three trans women of colour on dealing with pandemic isolation:

Three Toronto transgender women of colour share how they’re enduring the pain and isolation of pandemic social restrictions and how they’re looking forward to better days. 4:05

The two regions, along with North Bay-Parry Sound, were the last ones still under the order, while most of the province transitioned back to the government’s colour-coded pandemic response framework last month.

Toronto and Peel will be placed in the strictest “grey lockdown” category of the framework starting Monday, as was recommended by public health officials in the two areas. North Bay, meanwhile, will be placed in the red zone, the second-most restrictive level of pandemic measures.

Quebec reported 749 new cases on Saturday and 10 additional deaths. There are 601 people in hospital, a decrease of 16 from the previous day, with 109 patients in intensive care, a decrease of two.

​​​​​​Manitoba reported 54 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, along with one related death.

Saskatchewan reported 207 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, along with two related deaths.

Alberta reported 411 new cases of COVID-19 and two related deaths on Friday.

British Columbia reported 634 new cases of COVID-19 and four related deaths on Friday.

Across the North, Nunavut reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, all of them in the hamlet of Arviat. 


What’s happening around the world

As of Saturday morning, more than 116.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, with more than 65.6 million of the cases listed on the Johns Hopkins University tracking site as resolved. The global death toll stood at more than 2.5 million.

Saudi Arabia will end most coronavirus-related restrictions on Sunday, including resuming indoor dining, reopening cinemas and resuming entertainment activities and events, the state news agency SPA said on Saturday.

Some activities will remain banned, including weddings and corporate meetings. Social gatherings will continue to be limited to a maximum of 20 people, SPA said, citing an Interior Ministry source.

In Japan, about 70 anti-Olympics protesters gathered and marched in central Tokyo on Saturday to call for the cancellation of the Olympic Games this summer.

The protest march started from National Stadium where the opening ceremony for the Games is planned, and went through the busy shopping street of Omote Sando.

Protesters who are against holding the Olympics and Paralympics the year in Japan march near the National Stadium, in Tokyo on Saturday. (Hideto Sakai/Reuters)

Protesters held banners and shouted slogans denouncing the Olympics and Paralympics.

“We think it is too reckless to hold Olympics in this situation,” said one protester, Yoko Kataoka, citing the country’s not-contained COVID-19 situation.

The Olympics are scheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8 and the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.

WATCH | WHO says patents should be waived to get more vaccine made in more countries:

There isn’t enough COVID-19 vaccine getting to countries through the COVAX system, says the World Health Organization, so it’s recommending an emergency waiver of medical patents to ramp up vaccine production in developing countries. 0:53

In Germany, supermarket chain Aldi began selling coronavirus home testing kits on Saturday. They are only available directly at the supermarket checkout and are limited to one pack per customer. Each contains five rapid tests and costs about 25 euros ($37 Cdn.)

In some cases, long queues formed in front of many supermarket stores and supplies quickly sold out. Other German supermarket chains, such as Lidl, Rewe and Edeka, also plan to offer rapid tests soon.

So far, seven brands of home testing kits have been granted the special permission.

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