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B.C. health officials pleased with likely extension of Canada-U.S. border closure – Vancouver Is Awesome

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KELOWNA, B.C. — Health officials in British Columbia say they’re pleased the Canada-U.S. border is expected to remain closed to non-essential travel until at least late August.

However, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. residents should not be quick to judge anyone driving a vehicle with an American licence plate because some Canadians living south of the border may have returned to care for family.

Henry said it’s not surprising anyone in that situation would be coming to B.C. given the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in the United States, but it’s important they quarantine themselves for 14 days to prevent any risk of transmitting the virus.

“I’m happy it’s going till August and we’ll need to, of course, make sure that we watch carefully and monitor what’s going on,” Henry said Tuesday of the expected fourth extension of the border closure. 

“We’ll need to look at people like students who contribute to our research programs and our universities,” she said of possible considerations involving those allowed across the border, provided anyone who becomes ill in B.C. is monitored.

However, she said there shouldn’t be any changes for tourists and short-term visitors.

Health Minister Adrian Dix echoed Henry’s sentiments, adding the situation is “very serious in the United States” as well as in other countries, meaning anyone coming to B.C. from those areas could put residents at risk.

Henry announced 13 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number diagnosed to 3,128. That was followed by 62 cases announced on Monday over a three-day period.

She said the recent rise in cases is due to more people socializing when they need to recommit to the basics of keeping transmission low, including washing hands and gathering in small numbers.

“This is what is going to get us through the next year,” she said, adding she’s spoken with restaurant owners and employees who say some people are arriving in groups of 20, which would increase the risk of the virus spreading.

“People need to be on their best behaviour,” she said. “It’s for your safety as well as the people who work there.”

Anyone concerned about the high number of visitors to bars or restaurants should contact public health officials, Henry said.

The number of positive COVID-19 tests linked to an outbreak in Kelowna has grown to 17, she said, referring to activities linked to events that occurred in Kelowna’s waterfront district between June 25 and July 9.

Those are in addition to seven people who visited the city earlier this month and later tested positive for COVID-19, triggering the health authority’s alert.

Dix has said possible exposures that occurred in the waterfront district are believed to stem from private parties held around Canada Day.

That has prompted a statement from Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran urging visitors to respect Henry’s advice and use appropriate “travel manners.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2020.

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Deadliest day of pandemic in B.C.: 13 COVID-19 deaths, 738 infections – News 1130

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — B.C. recorded its deadliest day yet in the pandemic with 13 people losing their lives to COVID-19.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also reported Wednesday another 738 people have been infected with the virus.

The number of patients in hospital has broken another daily high with 294, with 61 in the ICU.

No new outbreaks were reported for the first time in weeks, and the one at Royal Columbian Hospital is over.

There are still 57 active outbreaks in health-care facilities.

Henry again said the majority of new cases were from the Fraser Health region, but she also issued a data correction for that area spanning from Nov. 17 to 24. While some days the number was higher than initially reported, Tuesday’s provincial total of 941 was actually 706 following the updated data in Fraser Health.

Rapid testing, vaccine on the horizon

Henry noted a number of rapid tests have been received from the federal government, including Abbott’s ID NOW.

“We have received 131 of the machines and 27,000 tests. However, as you can tell that would not be enough, for example, to do all of our health care workers in long-term care even once,” she said. “At this point, and we are working on how we can test deploy those machines to help us understand when outbreaks are happening when people need to be tested rapidly in the community.”

Another 500,000 antigen tests have also been acquired, Henry said, adding all the tests still need to be done by a health-care professional and are limited.

“So right now we’re limited in how we can use these, they are also only licensed for use in people who are symptomatic,” she said. “These tests are things that we can use to rapidly assess whether it’s COVID causing those symptoms or not.”

While the province is working on how best to use the tests, such as testing symptomatic people in long-term care and on the Downtown Eastside, Henry said they aren’t that reliable. She also clarified these are not the same tests being used in film production or in the NHL.

Henry said more tests will be arriving, and she hopes to see other types of rapid testing get approval for asymptomatic testing.

She touched on positive vaccine news and announced Dr. Ross Brown, vice president for Vancouver Coastal Health’s pandemic response, will be leading B.C.’s vaccine program with Henry and the deputy minister.

They’ll be in charge of getting the vaccine to British Columbians as soon as it’s available.

“Hopefully, as early as January,” Henry said.

It will take time for the province to get doses when they become available, so those most at risk will be prioritized to get vaccinated first, Henry said.

Even so, she said the province doesn’t know how many vaccines it will receive, so there are still unknowns when it comes to distribution.

In the meantime, she urged everyone to continue with COVID-19 health orders and reach out to loved ones virtually to check-in.

“We need to look — each of us — at ourselves, and we need to look deep,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said. “We must force COVID-19 to loosen its grip. And that is a critical, critical aspect to what we’re doing.”

Current COVID-19  health orders run out Dec. 7. Henry said by then, the province will know what needs to be done next.

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B.C. working on vaccine rollout plan as province records 738 new COVID-19 cases – Powell River Peak

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VICTORIA — Provincial health officials say they are working on British Columbia’s plan to handle COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, says Dr. Ross Brown of Vancouver Coastal Health will join the group working to organize the logistics around the distribution of vaccines.

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B.C. recorded another 13 deaths and 738 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total to 29,086.

The province also issued a correction for nine days of case totals in the Fraser Health region, revising Tuesday’s COVID-19 case count to 706 instead of 941.

Henry says front-line workers as well as those in long-term care homes will likely have priority for vaccinations.

She cautioned that while the province has contracts with vaccine makers, there can be challenges with offshore manufacturing.

“It’s very much focused on who is most at risk and how do we protect them best,” Henry said. “There’s a lot of discussion that needs to happen.”

Henry said they hope to have vaccines by January 2021.

She said she was surprised at how quickly the virus has spread during the fall, and health restrictions imposed across the province last week are an attempt to deal with the sudden surge in cases.

Henry urged people to think of the impact COVID-19 is having on health-care workers, particularly those at Burnaby General Hospital, where an outbreak has led to 55 patients and 40 hospital staff contracting the virus.

She also pushed back against those who oppose B.C.’s mandatory mask requirements, over claims it impacts their personal freedoms.

“I have no time for people who believe that wearing a mask somehow makes them ill or is a lack of freedom. It’s a sign of respect,” she said.

Henry’s call for compassion came on the same day the BC Coroners Service reported 162 overdose deaths for October.

The number of overdose deaths has become “unacceptably high,” she said, while urging residents to show compassion to drug users, and drug users not to take drugs alone.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.

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B.C. reports 13 more deaths and 738 new cases of COVID-19 – Global News

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British Columbia reported 738 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 13 new deaths.

It brings the province’s death toll to 371.

Officials also revised daily case totals from Nov. 16 to Nov. 24, owing to data reporting errors in the Fraser Health region.

The correction saw total case numbers increase on several days, but also saw Tuesday’s record-breaking 941 new cases revised down to 706. Full corrections will be available on the BC Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 dashboard in the coming days.

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“I know we had a dramatic increase in the daily numbers, that was a result of some of these data coming in at different times. So we apologize,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Read more:
Second wave: Global BC hosts COVID-19 town hall Wednesday with Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix

The majority of Wednesday’s cases were in the Fraser Health region (443) and Vancouver Coastal Health (169).

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Seventy were in the Interior Health region, 35 in the Northern Health region and 21 were on Vancouver Island.

The number of people in hospital climbed yet again, reaching a new record of 294. Sixty-one people were in critical or intensive care.

The outbreak at Royal Columbian Hospital was declared over, but 57 outbreaks in health-care facilities — 52 of them in long-term care — remained active.

There were 7,616 active cases, while 10,270 people were isolating due to potential exposure to the virus.

About 68 per cent of B.C.’s total 29,086 cases have recovered.

Vaccine rollout

British Columbia is aiming to roll out COVID-19 vaccines sometime in early 2021, Henry said.

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The province has appointed Dr. Ross Brown, the Vancouver Coastal Health’s vice-president of COVID response, to coordinate the program.

“This is a massive effort,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

“(It’s) the most significant immunization program certainly in the history of B.C., obviously because of the attention placed on it, it’s importance and its speed and the fact that we are dealing with new vaccines. All of that adds to its complications.”

Brown will work with Henry on logistical questions about how to distribute the vaccine as efficiently as possible, she said.

Questions include how to ship refrigerated vaccine, and how to prioritize its distribution to health-care workers and the vulnerable.

Mask order

Henry addressed new $230 fines, announced Tuesday, for people who refuse to wear a mask in indoor public places.

She called on people to be tolerant of others if they see them without a mask on, noting that many people cannot wear masks for reasons that may not be immediately visible.

The purpose of the order, she said, is to target individuals who are intentionally flouting the rules and putting others at risk.

“I have no time for people who are belligerent and are trying to make some kind of a statement about anti-vaxx, and think that this is not a truly challenging pandemic,” Henry said.

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“I have no time for people who believe that wearing a mask somehow makes them ill or is a sign of lack of freedom. For me it is about respect for our fellow people who are suffering through this.”

Rapid testing

British Columbia has received a supply of rapid tests from the federal government, but the quantity of tests and limitations around sensitivity mean they are not being widely used, Henry said.

The province has been trying the tests out in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, where following up with someone days after a test can be challenging, she said.

Officials are also hopeful they can be used to help identify clusters of virus in rural areas, or in long-term care settings where they need to quickly assess symptomatic people, she said.

“We’re still working out what the best way is to use these tests,” she said.

Global News will host a live town hall Wednesday evening with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix at 6:30 p.m.


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B.C. records 941 new cases of COVID-19, 10 additional deaths


B.C. records 941 new cases of COVID-19, 10 additional deaths

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