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B.C. health officials to update COVID-19 modelling as new cases hit lowest point since Nov. 5 –



Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry will present B.C.’s latest epidemiological modelling Wednesday, one day after announcing the lowest number of new daily COVID-19 cases since Nov. 5.

B.C. health officials announced 444 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 more deaths on Tuesday.

It’s the lowest number of daily cases since restrictions were implemented in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health authorities on Nov. 7 as cases spiked in the Lower Mainland.

The restrictions on events, social gatherings and travel were expanded to include the entire province in mid-November and are in place until Jan. 8.

Tuesday’s update brought the province’s seven-day average of new cases to its lowest point in over a month.

The number of active cases also appears to have levelled off in the past week and is now 9,481, according to the latest update.

However, health authorities are still urging caution as British Columbians look for ways to celebrate the holidays safely without breaking restrictions on travel and gatherings.

On Monday, Henry said that while B.C.’s curve is currently “levelling,” it’s at too high a plateau, with significant growth of new cases in the Interior and the north of B.C.

The province said it has formally extended B.C.’s state of emergency — which has been in place since March 18 — until Jan. 5.

Immunization plan gets boost with Moderna approval

Health Canada announced Wednesday morning it has approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in this country, clearing the way for thousands of doses to arrive by month’s end.

B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization strategy is well underway, with 4,108 people having received their first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech as of Tuesday. Henry was among those immunized this week.

The province says vaccines will become more available across the province now that Pfizer and Moderna have given guidance on how to safely transport the vaccines, which must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures.

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Hamilton's COVID vaccine clinic shut down | –



More COVID news

The COVID-19 vaccine clinic temporarily closed at Hamilton Health Sciences amid shortages that have limited immunization to only residents of seniors’ homes and second doses.

The clinic shut its doors Wednesday after reducing appointments on Monday and Tuesday to 300 a day from 1,000 at its height.

It comes as hospitals struggle to care for high numbers of COVID patients, with six more sent to Hamilton, Burlington and Niagara from overburdened hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area.

In total, 21 COVID patients have been transferred to area hospitals — seven to the Charlton Campus of St. Joseph’s Healthcare, five to Hamilton General Hospital, six to Burlington’s Joseph Brant Hospital and three to Niagara Health.

Hamilton hospitals were caring for 135 COVID patients Wednesday. To compare, fewer than 150 people total were hospitalized in Hamilton over the first four months of the pandemic.

The last month has seen a particularly significant jump, with HHS caring on Wednesday for nearly double the number of COVID patients at 97 than it was on Dec. 29, when it set a record of 50.

There is hope hospitals will see relief as new daily infections are lower now than at the beginning of January.

Hamilton reported 70 new cases Wednesday — only once in the last nine days has the number been above double digits. It’s also well below the single-day record of 209 set on Jan. 5.

But provincial public health officials caution the number of COVID infections remain high. To compare, Hamilton’s single-day record was 71 on Nov. 26, when the city was in the red zone.

There is also worry about three fast-spreading COVID variants — one is already in Ontario, although there have been no cases of the B.1.1.7 variant found in Hamilton so far despite increased surveillance.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, cautioned Monday that the B.1.1.7 variant “took off exponentially” in the U.K.

“We haven’t seen that yet,” he said. “That gives me some reassurance that our measures are holding.”

Hamilton’s pandemic death toll is 243 after the city reported three more COVID deaths Wednesday — 11 deaths have been reported in two days.

Of the most recent deaths, two appear to be seniors age 80 or more and one appears to be between the ages of 70 to 79. It’s unknown if they died in outbreaks because the city no longer provides that information.

There was a new death reported in the outbreak on unit E3 of Juravinski Hospital, where 29 have been infected and seven have died. As of Wednesday, there are outbreaks on 11 hospital units at HHS and St. Joseph’s.

The city’s 50 ongoing outbreaks also include 22 seniors’ homes and 11 other vulnerable congregate settings, including the Salvation Army Lawson Ministries, where an outbreak was declared Jan. 26 after two people tested positive.

In addition, there are outbreaks at three workplaces and three daycares.

Outbreaks have been declared over at long-term-care home Idlewyld Manor, accounting firm Pettinelli Mastroluisi on James Street South and Rygiel Supports for Community Living on the west Mountain. However, a second Rygiel outbreak is ongoing.

No date has been given yet for when the HHS immunization clinic will reopen for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s second doses, some of which started being administered on Jan. 18.



The second doses will be stretched as far out as 42 days compared to the recommended 21. Only residents of seniors’ homes are expected to get the second dose on time. The second dose of the Modena vaccine will be give within the recommended 28 days.

So far 19,200 doses have been administered in Hamilton but public health can’t provide any kind of breakdown of who has received them. It also doesn’t know how many seniors are left to vaccinate in long-term care and high-risk retirement homes.

It’s significant because the province wants residents vaccinated by Feb. 5 and is diverting vaccine to make that happen.

Local public health said in a statement that no vaccine destined for Hamilton has been diverted so far.

It has blamed the lack of data on the province.

“It’s a complete lack of transparency,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “Why all the secrecy?”

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Alberta company begins human clinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate – Campbell River Mirror



Human clinical trials have begun in Toronto for a proposed COVID-19 vaccine made by a Canadian company.

Providence Therapeutics of Calgary says 60 subjects will be monitored for 13 months, with the first results expected next month.

The group of healthy volunteers aged 18 to 65 have been divided into four groups of 15. Three of the groups will get three different dose levels, while a fourth group gets a placebo.

Pending regulatory approval, the company’s CEO Brad Sorenson says a larger Phase 2 trial may start in May with seniors, younger subjects and pregnant people.

Providence uses messenger RNA technology for a product it calls PTX-COVID19-B.

Sorenson says if successful, the vaccine could be released by the end of the year.

“We are thrilled to begin human clinical trials of PTX-COVID19-B. Having a made-in-Canada solution to address the global COVID-19 pandemic will augment the reliability of vaccine supply for Canadians, contribute to the global vaccine supply and position a Canadian company on the global stage as a contributor to the solution,” Sorenson said Tuesday in a release.

The Canadian Press

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Alta. COVID-19 numbers back to early-Dec. levels, health-care system still under strain: Hinshaw – CTV News Edmonton



Although more than 11,000 Albertans have been fully immunized for COVID-19 and infection and hospitalization rates are falling, officials are warning the province’s health-care system is still stressed.

In total, the province has administered more than 101,000 shots since December, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said Wednesday.  

That afternoon, Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 459 new cases of COVID-19. On Tuesday, labs conducted some 12,800 tests, leaving Alberta with a positivity rate of 3.6 per cent.

Hospitalizations, too, have dropped – but, Hinshaw said, not enough to significantly reduce the strain on Alberta’s health care system or justify easing restrictions.

Of news that several more businesses were defying public health orders with support of their local community and leadership, Hinshaw said the action could jeopardize Alberta’s recent progress.

“What I would say to those leaders is to think about not just what they see in front of them in their own town but to look at the province, and to recognize that every action that we take as individuals has repercussions and connections to our own communities and to the communities around us. And unfortunately, what we saw in the fall is that when we did take early targeted steps to try to minimize risk but not have businesses close, we continued to see our cases climb,” Hinshaw said.

She reminded the public that on Dec. 30, Alberta’s COVID-19 hospitalizations peaked at 943 people. Of those, 155 were in ICUs.

On Wednesday, Hinshaw said, 604 Albertans were in hospitals with the disease, 110 of whom were in intensive care units.

But the numbers are only on par with those seen on Dec. 4.

“This is encouraging news, and a signal that we are making meaningful progress,” Hinshaw said.

“We saw our health-care system come very close to a tipping point. We want to avoid that and we need to make sure that we are taking slow measured steps.”

She added Alberta Health was working on a “framework” that would help Albertans keep track of the metrics that would trigger more reopenings.


There are 8,203 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.

To date, more than 112,500 Albertans have recovered from the disease.

With the addition of 12 more deaths on Wednesday, the province’s death tally rose to 1,599.

Hinshaw had no update on Alberta’s so far single, unsourced B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant case, for which officials have found no transmission outside the person’s household.

“The knowledge that this particular variant of concern has been showing up in some other provinces and other countries around the world as a part of community transmission is concerning, and it does need to be factored into our decisions about timing of reopening,” Hinshaw told reporters. “Because if we do enable more activities, more opportunities for people to be in close contact with one another, we could potentially see quicker spreads if the variant is here in more locations than we currently are aware of.”

According to the latest data, reported at the beginning of the week, Alberta labs have confirmed 25 cases of the B.1.1.7 and 501Y-V2 strains first identified in the U.K. and South Africa. All but the one case have been linked to international travel.

Officials are calling immunization a key component of Alberta’s ability to prepare for any spread of two new strains, but say the work is hampered by vaccine supply delays.

Hinshaw said some Albertans who are eligible for a second dose may not yet have been given an appointment because the province is waiting to confirm its supplies arriving in two weeks.

However, she said the goal was to still administer all second shots within the maximum interval tested.

“While I can’t say with certainty at this point, what I can say is that everything possible will be done to provide that second dose to all who have had the first dose within that 42-day period.”

The top doctor asked for all those waiting to remain patient with the system and province. 

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