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B.C. reports three new COVID-19 deaths – lowest daily total in 13 weeks – Alaska Highway News

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Three British Columbians lost their lives to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, and as tragic as that is, it is the lowest number of new deaths reported for a one-day period since November 19. Since the province’s first reported COVID-19 death last March, health officials have attributed 1,317 deaths to the virus.

The province does not always break out the number of deaths on weekend days, so it is possible that there were fewer deaths on a recent weekend.

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Regardless, the low total of new deaths is a positive sign that the province is turning a corner on the most serious metric to watch during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mass vaccinations at seniors’ homes appear to have been successful at dampening the death toll in those facilities, as well as helping extinguish new outbreaks. 

“There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks,” provincial health officer Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement.

They added that outbreaks at Sunnybank Retirement Home in Oliver, and Mountain View Manor in Ladner are now over. This pushes down the number of outbreaks at seniors’ homes to 12, from more than 50 for much of January.

New infections continue, however, at a rate much higher than Henry said that she would like. 

Health officials detected 427 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours. That’s a significantly higher total than in the past couple of days, but well in the range seen so far this month. 

Of the 74,710 infections detected so far during the pandemic, 69,167 people, or more than 92.5%, are considered to have recovered, meaning that they have tested negative twice for the virus. 

The number of active infections has been hovering above 4,000 for the past week, and is now 4,150. The vast majority of those people have been told to self-isolate, although 232 are sick enough to be in hospitals, and 63 of those are in intensive care units. 

Health officials are monitoring another 7,238 people for symptoms because they have had known exposure to identified cases. 

Here is the breakdown of where the 427 new cases are located:
• 90 people in Vancouver Coastal Health (21.1%);
• 236 people in Fraser Health (55.3%);
• 18 in Island Health (4.2%);
• 47 in Interior Health (11%);
• 31 in Northern Health (7.3%); and
• five people who reside outside Canada (1.2%).

Immunizations continue to be scarce, with 4,260 arms being jabbed in the past 24 hours. Of those, 3,116 people were receiving their required second dose. In total, 176,015 doses have been administered to 149,985 people since the first shot was dispensed on December 16. Of those, 26,030 individuals have had two doses. 

None of the 12 active outbreaks at B.C. seniors’ care homes, assisted-living facilities and retirement residences are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. 

The five active outbreaks at seniors’ living facilities in Fraser Health are:
• CareLife Fleetwood in Surrey;
• Eagle Ridge Manor in Port Moody;
• 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. They include:
• Abbotsford Regional Hospital in Abbotsford;
• Burnaby General Hospital in Burnaby;
• Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake;
• Dawson Creek and District Hospital in Dawson Creek;
• Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops; and
• St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom 

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As BC COVID Cases Rise, Health Officials Say Better Days Are Ahead – Toronto Star

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Despite rising COVID-19 cases, especially in Metro Vancouver, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry didn’t announce new measures to curb the spread of the virus in a briefing today.

Henry urged British Columbians to continue to stay home when sick, wear a mask in public spaces and not socialize outside their households — public health orders that have been in place for nearly five months.

“It is concerning that we’re seeing an increase in our per-cent positivity and in our weekly average, particularly in the Lower Mainland,” she said.

“We know what to do to manage.”

The province need only stay the course to lower transmission as it continues to roll out vaccines to the most vulnerable to serious illness, she said.

But recent data shows the number of people infected is beginning to climb again after a slow decline. Earlier this month, the province was reporting about 450 new COVID-19 cases each day.

On Thursday, the province reported 617 new cases. Today, Henry said 559 new cases had been identified.

And the rolling seven-day average of new daily cases has surpassed 500 for the first time since early January.

Recent polling also suggests British Columbians are less likely to consistently follow COVID-19 guidelines than people in other provinces.

Concerns have also increased after seven schools reported students and staff had been exposed to COVID-19 variants that are believed to be more easily transmitted and potentially more likely to cause serious illness.

Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside acknowledged the issue in a briefing Monday.

“I can appreciate the anxiety,” she said. But she added that testing has shown the variants are not being spread within schools.

Henry said the province is testing all positive cases for evidence of a variant, and genomic sequencing has been ramped up to confirm the extent of variants in the community.

“We are paying extra attention, so we better understand how and where these are spreading,” she said.

“We’re learning about the impacts of these variants of concern,” Henry said. “But we know what we have to do to manage it.”

Henry said there are signs the province’s vaccination effort has saved lives, particularly in long-term care.

More than 220,000 people have been vaccinated, and at least 55,057 of those have had two doses.

The province reported one death due to COVID-19 today, an individual in assisted living.

There have been no new cases or deaths in long-term care in the last 24 hours, and 92 per cent of residents have had their first dose of the vaccine, Henry said.

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Outbreaks in long-term care have also dropped from almost 60 in December to 12. There are five outbreaks in assisted living facilities.

On Monday the province will announce the plan for vaccinating seniors over 80 living in the community, Henry said, which will begin shortly.

“We are in a period of vaccine hope and pandemic reality,” she said.

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21K vaccinations booked, thousands left frustrated by technical issues around Alberta's rollout – CTV Toronto

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CALGARY —
Registration opened Wednesday morning for Alberta seniors to book vaccination appointments, but the system crashed within minutes, leaving many frustrated.

“As anticipated, we are experiencing very high volumes with the AHS COVID-19 immunization booking tool,” officials wrote on social media.

“The tool remains live. If you are having trouble accessing the site, please try again shortly. Thank you for your patience.”

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said on social media he was “disappointed that the launch of the vaccine booking tool today did not go more smoothly.”

“At launch, more than 150,000 users attempted to visit the site, causing a number of technical issues,” he wrote.

To fix the problems, Shandro said network capacity had been added to 10 servers and additional staff has been brought in to answer Health Link calls.

As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, Shandro said 21,000 appointments had been booked.

All Albertans age 75 and older — including those who will turn 75 this year — can book appointments by calling Health Link (811) or using and an online portal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Anyone born in 1946 or earlier is eligible as part of Phase 1B of the province’s vaccination plan rollout. First Nations and Metis who are age 65 or older are also eligible. Vaccines will be provided in two doses, given five to six weeks apart.

There will be 58 sites set up to deliver vaccinations, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Tuesday.

Officials have said the first appointments will be available as early as 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

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Only Two New COVID-19 Cases In N.B. – 91.9 The Bend

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New Brunswick is reporting only two new cases of COVID-19 today (February 24).

Public Health says one case in the Moncton Zone 1 region involves someone in their 50s.

The case is under investigation and the individual is said to be self-isolating.

The other case is someone in their 70s in the Edmundston Zone 4 region.

The individual is a staff member at Manoir Belle Vue and is reportedly self-isolating.

Public Health says 13 people have recovered from the virus since Tuesday which has lowered the number of active cases to 64.

Two patients are in hospital and one is in the ICU.

There have been 26 COVID-related deaths in the province.

On Tuesday, 797 tests were conducted.

All zones remain in the Orange level under the province’s mandatory order.

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