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B.C. records highest number of new COVID-19 infections in almost six weeks – Dawson Creek Mirror

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B.C.’s recent success in wrestling down the number of new COVID-19 infections may be in jeopardy given that the province detected 617 new cases in a 24-hour period that ended February 18.

The province did not break down the new cases to say how many are actually new variants of the virus, which are said to be more infectious than the main COVID-19 virus, and potentially more deadly.

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The last time B.C. recorded as many COVID-19 infections in a day was on January 8, when there also 617 new infections. The last time that there were more new infections detected than there were today, was on January 7, when there were 761 new cases. 

In total, B.C. has now detected 75,327 cases of COVID-19 since the first case was identified on January 28, 2020. Of those, 69,602, or about 92.4%, are deemed to be recovered because they have tested negative for the virus twice.

Some good news is that the number of serious cases and deaths continues to trend lower. 

There are now 224 people in B.C. hospitalized with COVID-19. That number has not been lower since November 19 – 13 weeks ago. 

Of those hospitalized with COVID-19, 60 are in intensive care wards. That is the lowest number of such patients in ICU since November 23.

Another four COVID-19 patients died overnight, raising the province’s death toll from the virus to 1,321. 

The number of people actively battling COVID-19 infections in B.C. rose by 202 overnight, to 4,338 – the highest number in nearly two weeks. 

Immunizations continue to be scarce, with 4,676 arms being jabbed in the past 24 hours. Of those, 3,922 people were receiving their required second dose. In total, 180,691 doses have been administered to 150,739 people since the first shot was dispensed on December 16. Of those, 29,952 individuals have had two doses. 

Here is the breakdown of where the 617 new cases are located:
• 146 in Vancouver Coastal Health (23.7%);
• 342 in Fraser Health (55.4%);
• 19 in Island Health (4.2%);
• 17 in Interior Health (2.8%);
• 92 in Northern Health (14.9%); and
• one in a person resides outside Canada.

A new community outbreak of COVID-19 is at Simon Fraser University Childcare Centre, according to provincial health officer Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix. 

The trend during the past month of fewer seniors’ homes with COVID-19 may be taking a breather, as there was one new seniors’ home outbreak detected: at Surrey’s Fleetwood Villa. 

None of the 13 active outbreaks at B.C. seniors’ care homes, assisted-living facilities and retirement residences is in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. 

The six active outbreaks at seniors’ living facilities in Fraser Health are:
• CareLife Fleetwood in Surrey;
• Eagle Ridge Manor in Port Moody;
• Fleetwood Villa;
• George Derby Centre in Burnaby;
• Royal City Manor in New Westminster; and
• Shaughnessy Care Centre in Port Coquitlam.

Two outbreaks at seniors’ homes in Nanaimo – Eden Gardens and Wexford Creek – are the only ones in the Island Health region.

The outbreak at the Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert is the only active outbreak in Northern Health. 

The four active outbreaks at seniors’ living facilities in Interior Health are at:
• Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre in Kamloops;
• Carrington Place Retirement Residence in Vernon;
• Creekside Landing in Vernon;
• Noric House in Vernon.

In addition to those outbreaks, there remain six outbreaks at B.C. hospitals. The outbreak at Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake has been declared over, but it has been replaced by a new outbreak at Mission Memorial Hospital in Mission.

The list of B.C. hospitals with active COVID-19 outbreaks now includes:
• Abbotsford Regional Hospital in Abbotsford;
• Burnaby General Hospital in Burnaby;
• Dawson Creek and District Hospital in Dawson Creek;
• Mission Memorial Hospital in MIssion;
• Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops; and
• St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Henry and Dix released a joint statement saying: “We all know what we need to do,” referring to social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands regularly and following public health orders. 

“Until we have widespread vaccine availability, these small steps make a big difference in helping to keep all of us safe.”

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom 

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COVID-19 vaccine call centres flooded with 1.7 million calls on first day – Vancouver Is Awesome

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B.C.’s health minister is pleading with British Columbians not to ring up COVID-19 vaccine call centres unless they’re eligible to book an appointment for a shot.

Adrian Dix revealed Monday (March 8) call centres meant for booking vaccine shots have been flooded with 1.7 million calls since launching at 7 a.m.

Fewer than 100,000 British Columbians are currently eligible to book — 47,000 people 90 years old or above, and 35,000 Indigenous people 65 years or older.

“If you’re not in those categories, please don’t call us today so that we can continue to proceed through those appointments. We’ve got five days to do it, there’s going to be lots of time,” Dix said during a media briefing.

“Remember, this is not first come first serve, that there’s going to be appointments available all week.”

Initial bookings are to be done through dedicated call centres for the province’s five local authorities and family members are able to book on behalf of seniors who may not feel comfortable scheduling their vaccinations on their own.

Fraser Health is the only health authority providing online bookings.

Booking eligibility will expand to those 85 years and older by March 15, and 80 years and older by March 22.

Vaccinations for elderly British Columbians begin March 29 as the province continues to prioritize vulnerable groups and frontline health-care workers for vaccinations over the next three weeks.

Dix said an online booking platform will be ready to launch April 12 as the province begins vaccinating the broader population with more doses expected to be pouring in from manufacturers.

Details on the province’s online platform remain sparse and provincial officials said one week ago more information would be made available in the coming weeks.

The call centre will ask British Columbians for their legal name, date of birth, postal code, personal health number and current contact info.

Call centre workers will not be asking for financial info, such as credit card details.

Instructions for call centre bookings and local health authority call centre numbers are available at gov.bc.ca/bcseniorsfirst.

torton@biv.com

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City of Toronto launches website for booking COVID-19 vaccinations – MobileSyrup

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The city of Toronto has launched a website for booking and registering for COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of the province’s upcoming centralized online system.

Only eligible individuals are allowed to register at the moment. The website outlines that the availability of vaccination appointments depends on vaccine supply.

Provincial prioritization guidance states that people who are 80 years of age or older, health care workers in high priority risk groups and Indigenous adults are eligible for vaccinations right now.

Eligible individuals can use the website to either book an appointment or pre-register for when an appointment becomes available. You can book an appointment through the website, through a chat room or by phone.

The municipal government says the website is being used until the provincial government launches a centralized online registration website, which is currently in the works and set to roll out on March 15th.

Last month, the Ontario government provided a proposed timeline for when residents can start accessing the online booking system once it launches. Those who are age 75 and above can access the system starting April 15th, residents aged 70 and above can start May 1st and those who are 65 and older can begin June 1st.

The proposed schedule will be in place as long as the supply of vaccines remains steady. It’s also worth noting that although the booking system is expected to open for eligible people during these windows, it will likely take some time to get an appointment reserved.

Ontario is behind other provinces in launching the online booking system, as residents in Alberta and Quebec are already able to start booking appointments online.

You can access the city of Toronto’s booking website here. 

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Proof of pre-existing illness not required for COVID-19 shot, health minister says – 680 News

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Ontario’s health minister says people won’t be asked to provide proof of their pre-existing health conditions to access a COVID-19 vaccine during the second phase of the rollout.

Christine Elliott says she believes most people will come to the clinics when they are permitted and not take advantage of the honour system.

The vaccine will be offered starting in April to people with specific health conditions like organ transplant recipients, those living with obesity, and those receiving treatments that suppress the immune system.

Elliott says local public health units will screen people as they arrive at the clinics and may be able to check with a person’s family physician, but that will not be mandatory.

“We haven’t run into very many of those situations,” she said. “People are following the rules, they are coming in at the appropriate time, they’re being very patient, and they want to make sure that people who are the most at risk are going to be given their vaccinations first.”

Vaccinations among the highest-priority Ontarians, including long-term care residents and staff, are wrapping up, and some local public health units have already begun offering shots to the broader public, starting in many cases with those over age 80.


RELATED: Toronto to open 3 mass immunization clinics on March 17, will prioritize seniors


First vaccine doses were completed as of Monday in 31 fly-in Indigenous communities, in what the province called a “milestone” in its effort to provide protection against the virus in remote areas. Ontario aims to complete second doses in those communities by the end of April.

Meanwhile, Ontario has reported 1,631 new cases of COVID-19 today, but the government says the case count is higher than expected due to a “data catch-up process” in its system.

The province also recorded 10 additional deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said 568 of the new cases are in Toronto, 322 are in Peel Region, and 119 are in York Region.

Ontario said 994 more cases were resolved since the last daily update.

The numbers come as a stay-at-home order in Toronto, Peel Region, and North Bay lift today, loosening pandemic restrictions imposed nearly two months ago.


RELATED: Durham, York Region open additional vaccination clinics for those 80-and-up


The three regions were the last ones still under the order, and are transitioning back to the government’s colour-coded pandemic response framework.

Toronto and Peel entered the strictest “grey lockdown” category, something local public health officials asked for in both regions.

Even those strict measures, however, allow more retailers to open, with restrictions, but leave gyms and personal care services closed. Restaurants, meanwhile, can only offer takeout, drive-thru, or delivery.

Some restaurant owners said they won’t be able to survive much longer unless they’re allowed to reopen for on-site dining, even at a limited capacity.

“Move us to the red zone (of the pandemic system) so we have a fighting chance. Even 14 days in grey lockdown could mean the end of my business and many others,” Regan Irvine, owner of the Irv Gastropub in Toronto, said in an open letter to officials issued last week.

“Over the last year, my mother and I have depleted our life savings to try and keep the restaurant afloat. We have cashed RRSPs, drained savings accounts, maxed out credit cards, and maxed out lines of credit because the government assistance programs simply aren’t enough.”

North Bay is now in the “Red Zone,” the second most restrictive level of pandemic measures.

Elliott said the government is taking a “safe and cautious approach” to ending the provincewide shutdown, which started in January.

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