‘It may be tempting to think that not providing information will make COVID-19 go away. Unfortunately, the opposite is true,’ Hinshaw warned
A “small but significant increase” of Albertans refusing to co-operate with contact tracers could push back the easing of restrictions, warns Alberta’s top doctor.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the provincial chief medical officer of health, said less than one per cent of confirmed cases didn’t answer the phone or return calls from contact tracers last year. That number swelled to 1.9 per cent in January and is at 1.3 per cent so far in February.
She said there has also been a notable increase in the amount of people who were initially willing to speak with contact tracers but later refused to provide necessary information.
“This leaves gaps that COVID-19 is happy to fill,” Hinshaw said Wednesday.
She said many Albertans are tired of the pandemic and anxious to return to their normal lives, but being unco-operative with public health officials won’t hasten the reopening process.
“It may be tempting to think that not providing information will make COVID-19 go away. Unfortunately, the opposite is true,” Hinshaw warned.
“Trying to ignore COVID-19 and not participating with contact tracing only pushes back the day we can ease restrictions further, by giving the virus the opportunity to spread farther and faster without being stopped.”
Alberta public health officials follow up with unresponsive individuals multiple times to try to obtain necessary details for contact tracing, and send a written notice of information requirements under the Public Health Act, said Hinshaw.
Even a “handful” of people refusing to participate can lead to significant spread of the deadly virus, she said, and could affect Alberta’s plans to ease public health restrictions.
While there are specific benchmarks to hit for each phase of the province’s reopening plan, officials have declined to offer concrete numbers that would lead to a pause or reversal of relaxed restrictions.
Hinshaw said officials are looking at three key metrics — positivity rate, new cases and R-value — but did not give firm figures when pressed for details.
“It’s not about a specific number. It’s about the change, the trajectory and the trends,” she said, adding an R-value above one and sustained growth of new cases over multiple weeks would be cause for concern.
Another 277 cases of the novel coronavirus were recorded in the province on Wednesday from 7,476 tests, representing a positivity rate of about 3.9 per cent.
There are now 4,857 active cases.
The province also identified four new variant COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours, all of which are the strain first identified in the U.K. A total 225 variant infections have been recorded since mid-December.
Seven new deaths bring the provincial death toll to 1,798.
There are currently 370 Albertans in hospital, 60 of whom are in ICU.
Premier passes blame to federal government on uncertain vaccine plan
Premier Jason Kenney says he doesn’t “understand the huge rush” to identify next steps in Alberta’s vaccine rollout plan considering supply issues.
The province has yet to release details on the next phase of its immunization program when additional doses become available, despite other provinces releasing comprehensive strategies.
“I frankly don’t understand the huge rush. We haven’t even really gotten into Phase 1B yet. We don’t have enough vaccines — that is the issue. The issue is supply,” Kenney said during a news conference on Wednesday where he announced new small business supports.
“We are taking care of our part of the deal, which is to make sure we can deliver as many jabs in as many arms as possible if and when we start to get some decent supply.”
Kenney put the blame on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying the federal Liberal government failed to exert the same “political pressure” as other countries, such as Israel, to secure vaccines.
The schedule of projected vaccine supply “keeps slipping,” said Kenney.
That’s why Alberta is working with other provinces to identify possible sources of domestic vaccine production, including Calgary’s Providence Therapeutics, he added. He called the efforts a “provincially led plan B.”
Kenney said further details on vaccine distribution will be released Friday, but added that “when it comes to subsequent phases, a lot of this is quite fluid.”
B.C. vaccinates more than 200,000 people for COVID-19, as second dose shots fall to a trickle – Vancouver Is Awesome
B.C. announced March 3 that it has vaccinated more than 200,000 individuals with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine – 11 weeks after the first dose was administered in the province on December 16.
There are now 203,193 B.C. residents who have had at least one dose of a vaccine, with 86,616 of those having had two doses. That is an average of 2,639 people per day who have had at least one shot.
B.C. officials said earlier this week that they expect all eligible British Columbians to have been vaccinated by the end of July. In order to do that, the province will need to increase more than tenfold the number of people that health officials vaccinate each day, to around 26,666.
Health officials administered 6,627 doses of vaccine in the past day, to 6,543 new people, and a mere 84 second doses to individuals who have already had their first doses.
Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry and others have explained that the new strategy is to focus first on vaccinating people with single doses, and to leave second doses until as long as 112 days after the first dose because of supply shortages. The rationale for this tactic is also that first doses provide significant immunity and it is smarter to vaccinate as many people as possible with first doses, to limit the spread of COVID-19, than to focus on having people fully immunized with two doses.
The spread of COVID-19 in B.C. is not abating. Officials detected another 542 new infections overnight, for a total of 81,909 cases since the first infection was detected in late January 2020. The vast majority of the 4,654 people actively infected with the virus in B.C. have been told to self-isolate, but 246 people are sick enough to be in hospitals, with 64 of those in intensive care units.
Another seven people died overnight while being infected with the virus, raising B.C.’s death toll from COVID-19 to 1,372.
More than 92.5%, or 75,819 people, who were infected with the virus, have tested negative twice and are therefore considered by the province to have recovered. Health officials are also closely monitoring 8,617 people for symptoms because they have had known exposure to identified cases.
Here is the breakdown of where the 542 new cases are located:
• 131 in Vancouver Coastal Health (24.1%);
• 292 in Fraser Health (53.9%);
• 31 in Island Health (5.7%);
• 43 in Interior Health (7.9%);
• 44 in Northern Health (8.1%) and
• one person who resides outside Canada.
“There have been 18 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in our province, for a total of 200 cases,” provincial health officer Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement. “Of the total [variant] cases, 11 are active and the remaining people have recovered. This includes 176 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant and 24 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant.”
There were no new outbreaks of the virus at seniors’ homes, nor were there any active outbreaks in those homes that were declared over.
None of the nine active outbreaks at seniors’ homes is in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
The five active outbreaks at seniors’ living facilities in Fraser Health are:
• CareLife Fleetwood in Surrey;
• Chartwell Carrington House in Mission;
• Revera Sunwood in Maple Ridge;
• Royal City Manor in New Westminster; and
• Shaughnessy Care Centre in Port Coquitlam.
The outbreak at Glacier View Lodge in Courtenay is the only outbreak at a seniors’ home in the Island Health region.
The only outbreak at such a facility in the Northern Health region is at the Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert.
The two active outbreaks at seniors’ living facilities in Interior Health are now at Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre in Kamloops, and The Florentine in Merritt.
There are also eight active COVID-19 outbreaks at B.C. hospitals. They include:
• Chilliwack General Hospital in Chilliwack;
• Dawson Creek and District Hospital in Dawson Creek;
• Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody;
• Kelowna General Hospital in Kelowna;
• Mission Memorial Hospital in Mission;
• Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster;
• Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey; and
• Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver.
Coronavirus: Toronto still waiting on vaccine supply boost from province – Global News
While thousands of Ontario seniors 80 years of age and older were recently inoculated against COVID-19, many have not yet received their first vaccine dose.
Peel and York Regions launched their own online portals two weeks ahead of the provincial government’s website.
Online booking for appointments in York opened at 8 a.m. on Monday. Within an hour and a half, all 20,000 available spots had been claimed.
The region announced late Wednesday evening it would be opening an additional 2,000 appointments.
In Peel, public health is working in collaboration with Trillium Health Partners and William Osler Health System to provide the shots for eligible residents.
Meanwhile, in Canada’s largest city, officials continue to wait for a badly needed boost to its vaccine rollout.
“We are vaccine availability limited,” said Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg.
Pegg, who is the general manager of Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management, faced several questions about when residents in that age group would be able to receive vaccinations at city-run sites.
“There are a number of hospitals and there are a number of health care partners who are moving forward, and who are vaccinating a number of people, and residents who are over the age of 80, from the supply of vaccine that they have,” he said during a news conference on Wednesday.
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Michael Garron Hospital and North York General Hospital are all offering pre-registration. Their portals were also launched in advance of the provincial government site.
When asked on Monday during a news conference about why Toronto was unable to launch its own targeted vaccination effort, Dr. Eileen de Villa pointed to the considerable number of people required to be inoculated under the provincial prioritization framework.
“We have roughly, I believe, about 100,000 people working within the health-care system here, and that just doesn’t exist in other jurisdictions,” she said.
“That’s just one example of the scale or the size and scope of the vaccination campaign that we need to undertake here in Toronto that differentiates us from other jurisdictions.”
Coronavirus: Toronto and Peel Region request a return to the grey zone
Global News reached out to the Ministry of Health for comment on Wednesday afternoon, and did not receive a response in time for publication.
As of the week of February 22, Toronto received 137,670 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 57,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
Toronto Public Health says this was enough to cover 97,685 people as part of the two-dose regimen. The estimated number of people to be vaccinated in phase one is 325,000.
Public Health officials in Peel Region tell Global News as of the end of last month, 65,000 doses have been received across sites that obtain doses directly from province.
Nearly 52,000 doses have been administered to those eligible to receive one.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Ontario to launch coronavirus vaccine pilot project in selected pharmacies – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
As vaccine supply starts to ramp up in Ontario, residents could soon get their COVID-19 vaccine in pharmacies.
The Ford government and the Ontario Pharmacists Association have reached a deal that will allow the administration of vaccines in 4,600 pharmacy locations across the province.
“We have signed agreements now with the pharmacy association to allow them to vaccinate. As you know, the minister of health has expanded the number of health care practitioners who can provide vaccines,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said Wednesday.
“So, we’re ready. We have put in the bricks if you may to make sure that no matter how much vaccine we have, we’re ready and able to ramp up quickly.”
Justin Bates, the president of the association, told CTV News Toronto Wednesday that a pilot project will be launched in a number of pharmacies next week in three health units – Toronto Public Health, Kingston, Frontenac, Lennos and Addington Public Health, and Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
“I think that’s a great milestone to increase access and convenience for residents of Ontario,” Bates said.
“We’re going to start there with the limited amount of vaccine that’s available and then scale up.”
Bates added that details of the pilot project are still being finalized, including who is eligible to go to a pharmacy and what vaccine will be distributed.
The province could see 46 vaccinations in a day per pharmacy, which amounts to about one million per week, he said.
“We have the resources and infrastructure to be able to add quite a few vaccinations and give ultimately, a choice and a complementary system to both public health mass immunization clinics, as well as what the role for primary care physicians are going to going to ultimately be,” Bates said.
“This is going to be an all-hands-on-deck scenario. And pharmacies are certainly an important part of that.”
When asked if pharmacists will be involved in the rollout of therecently approved Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, Bates said that it is under consideration, but no final decision has been made.
The provincial government indicated that it will be using ‘a different pathway’ in delivering the AstraZeneca vaccine into people’s arms. Ontario is expected to receive approximately 190,000 doses of the vaccine this month, including 114,000 shots with an expiration date of April 2.
The province said those between the ages of 60 and 64 will have access to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“I think because of the supply challenges, and also because we don’t want to take away from what’s available in the public health clinics, whether it’s the mass immunization clinics or the mobile pop-up clinics, I think they’re going to look for a separate supply for pharmacy, whether that’s AstraZeneca or what have you,” Bates said.
“But we want to make sure what we’re doing is complimentary. That we’re offering choice for patients, residents in the province lots of access points. We don’t want to take away from the efforts that are underway for the priority populations within the other parts of the system.”
– with files from CTV News Toronto’s Colin D’Mello
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