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B.C.'s COVID-19 surge continues, with 800 new cases and 5 more deaths –



B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload continues to spike, as health officials announced 800 new cases of COVID-19 and five more deaths on Thursday.

It’s the highest single-day total for cases so far this year — B.C. hasn’t seen numbers above 800 since Dec. 2. The rolling seven-day average of new cases is now up 25 per cent over the last eight days.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 306 people, 79 of whom are in intensive care.

There are currently 5,856 active cases of coronavirus in the province, the highest total since Jan. 8.

The news comes just hours after provincial officials loosened restrictions for visitors to long-term care homes and made temporary allowances for indoor religious services.

“While this is encouraging news, in parallel we have also seen a notable spike in the number of new cases, especially amongst those 19 to 39 years of age. This tells us some people are taking on more risk for themselves and their loved ones than what is safe right now,” Henry and Dix said in the written statement.

“We remind everyone that although some outside activities are allowed, we must keep going with our protective layers.”

The vast majority of the new cases announced Thursday are located in the Lower Mainland — about 80 per cent were in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions.

Another 191 cases of variants of concern have been identified, bringing the total in B.C. to date to 1,772 cases. That includes 1,549 cases of the variant first seen in the U.K., 176 cases of the variant first seen in Brazil and 47 of the variant first seen in South Africa.

Public health monitoring is now monitoring 9,964 people across B.C. who are in self-isolation because of COVID-19 exposure.

A total of 87,351 people who tested positive for the virus have recovered, while 1,446 people in B.C. have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

B.C. recorded one new outbreak at Chilliwack General Hospital.

So far, 610,671 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 87,212 of those being second doses. Vaccine appointments are now being booked for those over the age of 75, as well as Indigenous people over the age of 55.

Watch: Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about why B.C. is easing restrictions

Dr. Bonnie Henry says this is one of the questions she is asked most often. 1:06

Restrictions eased for long-term care visits, religious services

Earlier Thursday, the province announced residents in B.C.’s long-term care facilities will soon be allowed more visitors and will be given the freedom to hug their loved ones.

New guidelines, which take effect April 1, will eliminate the requirement for a resident to have a single designated social visitor. Residents will be allowed up to two visitors at a time, as well as a child. 

The province also announced it will allow a limited number of indoor religious services over a six-week period this spring.

Private indoor gatherings are still banned under public health guidelines. Effective immediately, the B.C. government has more than doubled the fine from $230 to $575 for promoting or attending a non-compliant gathering or event.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, the Interior Health authority said it’s planning to vaccinate all adults across 61 rural communities within its jurisdiction by the end of July. 

Tap the link below to hear Interior Health chief medical health officer Dr. Albert de Villiers’s interview on Daybreak South:  

Daybreak South8:51Interior Health has announced small communities will see community wide Covid-19 vaccination programs next month.

Interior Health has announced small communities will see community wide Covid-19 vaccination programs next month. 8:51

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COVID cases in Ontario could spike to 30,000 per day by June



TORONTO (Reuters) – New cases of COVID-19 in Canada‘s most populous province could rise more than six fold, topping 30,000 per day by early June if public health measures are weak and vaccination rates remain flat, a panel of experts advising the province of Ontario said on Friday.

Even if measures to control the virus are “moderate,” the number of patients in Ontario ICUs could reach 2,000 in May, up from 695 on Friday.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario told doctors last week they may soon have to decide who can and cannot receive intensive care.


(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Chris Reese)

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Moderna sees shortfall in Britain COVID vaccine shipments, EU deliveries on track



ZURICH (Reuters) – U.S. drugmaker Moderna expects a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine doses from its European supply chain hitting second-quarter delivery quantities for Britain and Canada, though European Union– and Swiss-bound shipments are on track, a spokesperson said.

The delays, first announced on Friday when Canada said Moderna would be delivering only about half the planned 1.2 million doses by the end of April, come as Switzerland’s Lonza ramps up three new production lines to make active ingredients for Moderna vaccine supplies outside of the United States.

“The trajectory of vaccine manufacturing ramp-up is not linear, and despite best efforts, there is a shortfall in previously estimated doses from the European supply chain,” Moderna said in a statement.

Lonza didn’t immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment on any issues in its production.


(Reporting by John Miller; editing by David Evans)

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Moderna says vaccines to Canada to be delayed due to Europe shortfall



(Reuters) -Moderna Inc said on Friday a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine doses from its European supply chain will lead to a delay in deliveries to some countries including Canada.

The drugmaker would be delivering only 650,000 doses by April end as opposed to 1.2 million, Canada‘s Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in a statement.

She said one to two million doses of the 12.3 million doses scheduled for delivery by Moderna in the second quarter would be delayed until the third.

Moderna officials in Europe did not immediately comment on the reason for the delays or give the total number of countries that would be impacted.

“Vaccine manufacturing is a highly complex process and a number of elements, including human and material resources have factored into this volatility,” said Patricia Gauthier, an executive at Moderna Canada.

Canada has distributed a total of 2.82 million doses of the Moderna vaccine as of April 14 and 12.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in total.

Moderna has been aiming to deliver 700 million to 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 globally this year, including from plants in Europe and the United States.

Swiss contract drug manufacturer Lonza makes active ingredients for Moderna’s vaccine in Visp, but it was still ramping up three new production lines that once operational would be able to produce 300 million shots annually.

The current supply, demand and distribution landscape has led the drugmaker to make adjustments in the expected second-quarter deliveries, Gauthier said.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru, Allison Martell in Toronto and John Miller in Zurich; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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