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BC on track for 'explosive' COVID-19 growth, says top doctor – News 1130

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VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C. recorded 102 new COVID-19 cases over the past three days and health officials are warning the province could see an explosive increase if British Columbians aren’t more careful.

Half of the new cases happened between Friday and Saturday, while those related to the exposure event in Kelowna on the Canada Day long weekend are now more than 60.

That’s up 25 since Friday.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said, according to new modelling data released Monday, British Columbians need to keep their social circles small and among people they know, or case counts could rise rapidly.

“And that’s where we are right now, we are at a bit of a tipping point. We now have started to see cases increase. Our curve is bending up. We know what we need to do to flatten it,” she said.

What we are trying to do, and what we have done from the very beginning here in B.C. was to take the measured approach so that we don’t actually have to go back. We don’t want to be going back to closing things down unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

Henry said the province will discuss enhanced restrictions for how bars and nightclubs operate later this week.

So what we want to do is look at where these transmission events are happening more commonly, and look at the measures that are important to try and reduce the spread in those settings,” she added.

Instructions from WorkSafe BC will also be enhanced to ensure COVID-19 safety plans are being followed, Henry said.

“The other pieces that are really important around those are, you know, we know that when alcohol is served, that people’s inhibitions tend to go away and they may forget some of the rules, and that puts the servers and the people who are working in those settings at risk, as well. So we need to have boundaries around that.”

Henry also said having contact information is key to tracing and the province may consider using some apps to support that.

“But the challenge now is that we are no longer having safe connections, and that is what is spreading this virus. So we are having clusters in certain environments where people are transmitting this,” she added. “We’re seeing parties, small groups people going together to restaurants and bars and clubs, but also in houseboats, resorts at private homes. And the challenge with that is we may not know the people that were in those close contact with.”

Most concerning in the last week and a half, Henry said, is a growth in cases among young people.

She also said a number of recent exposure alerts are related to flights in and out of airports in Victoria, Vancouver and Kelowna.

“These alerts are issued when we’re unable to ensure that we’ve connected with everybody who might have been exposed,” she said.

Infections per case rise

Meanwhile, Henry presented new modelling that showed the average number of new COVID-19 infections per case has now risen above one — the threshold for sustained growth.

“What this shows is that we do have a possibility of having explosive growth in our outbreak here in B.C., if we’re not careful,” Henry said.

Poorer compliance with health and safety advice, such as wearing a mask and hand-washing, could lead to a rebound in new cases, says the report.

The data shows a slight uptick in cases over the past month, as the province relaxed health and safety protocols as part of the third phase of its economic restart plan.

“Our model suggests that increasing numbers of new cases during the summer remain a possibility,” says the report. “Given the relatively small numbers of reported cases at this time, projections into the summer have large uncertainty.”

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The modelling report follows a week when the province recorded multiple new outbreaks or exposure events.

While many of the new cases involve people between 20 and 30 years old, the data shows 60 per cent of 189 COVID-19 deaths in B.C. involve long-term care homes.

Another 12 per cent are linked to acute care facilities. Close to 20 per cent of all cases in the province are connected to care facilities.

While no new deaths were reported Monday, three outbreaks remain active at care facilities.

Health survey results

The province also released information about its COVID-19 health survey, completed by close to 400,000 British Columbians.

The survey found 79 per cent respondents can stay home when sick, but just 67 per cent do.

More than 95 per cent practice “preventive personal hygiene,” and more than 90 per cent avoid gatherings.

Close to half of British Columbians say their mental health is worsening during the pandemic, and more so among those ages 18 to 29.

Close to 70 per cent said their work has been impaired by the virus. Another 15 per cent say they are not working due to COVID-19, and 33 per cent say they are having difficulting accessing health care. Another 15 per cent are worried about food becoming insecure.

B.C. has recorded 3,198 cases overall.

No new deaths were reported Monday.

Of 253 active cases, 18 people are in hospital, including two in intensive care.

Cases by health region since the start of the pandemic: 1,042 in Vancouver Coastal; 1,713 in Fraser; 142 people on Vancouver Island; 280 in Interior; 69 people in Northern; and 54 from outside Canada.

“We have had cases this weekend in all health authorities in British Columbia, which reminds us of the fact that this virus continues to circulate. And as we are moving, we are bringing it with us.”

Read the full modelling report:

7653_Covid19-Modelling_20200720_16-9PPP_Broadcast_V4

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'Cautious consumer' to remain until COVID-19 vaccine, Indigo CEO says – Squamish Chief

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TORONTO — Canadian customers likely won’t start frequenting stores for items not on their shopping list until there’s a vaccine for COVID-19, Indigo Books & Music Inc. founder and chief executive said Friday.

“I think our own view is that customers will continue well, well into the months ahead to make shopping an activity they do when they have something specific to buy,” Heather Reisman said during a conference call with analysts. The company released its first-quarter financial results after markets closed Thursday.

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Foot traffic is “still way down” for the book retailer, which shuttered all its stores to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and only reopened nearly all 182 of its locations by the end of its most recent quarter.

The Toronto-based company’s revenue for the 13 weeks ended June 27 fell to $135.1 million from $192.6 million due to store closures. It recorded a net loss of about $31.6 million or $1.15 per common share compared with a loss of about $19.1 million or 69 cents per share in the same quarter last year.

Since reopening, retail store sales have tracked at about 72 per cent of sales at the same time last year, said chief financial officer Craig Loudon.

However conversion and average transaction size are both “way up,” noted Reisman.

“So, that’s saying that you’ve got a deliberate customer and we think that that’s going to remain, frankly, until there’s a vaccine.”

In Canada, people watch the news and are afraid of the virus, she said.

“So, all in all, we predict that the retail consumer will remain a cautious consumer,” she said.

The company is working to make the shopping experience easy and safe and is planning for the important holiday shopping season although it remains to be seen how consumers behave during a usually busy period.

The company accelerated efforts during the first quarter to help serve customers safely during the holiday season, including “a robust click-and-collect capability and Instacart service,” said Reisman. These efforts should be implemented in the current quarter.

The company’s e-commerce revenue grew threefold, jumping up 214 per cent for the quarter compared with last year. That demand “has moderated, but remained strong” as stores reopened, said Loudon.

Indigo’s shares, which have plunged from a high of $8.06 last August, surged 19 per cent or 20 cents at $1.25 in afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 7, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:IDG)

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speed of COVID-19 vaccine race raises safety concerns

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BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) – The frenetic race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine has intensified safety concerns about an inoculation, prompting governments and drugmakers to raise awareness to ensure their efforts to beat the coronavirus aren’t derailed by public distrust.

FILE PHOTO: A small bottle labeled with a “Vaccine” sticker stands near a medical syringe in front of displayed “Coronavirus COVID-19” words in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

There are more than 200 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development globally, including more than 20 in human clinical trials. U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to have a shot ready before year’s end, although they typically take 10 years or longer to develop and test for safety and effectiveness.

In the drive to find a potential COVID-19 vaccine “fast is good for politicians,” said Heidi Larson, who leads the Vaccine Confidence Project (VCP), a global surveillance programme on vaccine trust. “But from the public perspective, the general sentiment is: ‘too fast can’t be safe’”, she told Reuters.

Regulators around the world have repeatedly said speed will not compromise safety, as quicker results would stem from conducting in parallel trials that are usually done in sequence.

However, these reassurances have failed to convince many, including in Western countries where scepticism about vaccinations was already growing before the pandemic.

Preliminary results of a survey conducted over the last three months in 19 countries showed that only about 70% of British and U.S. respondents would take a COVID-19 vaccine if available, Scott Ratzan, co-leader of ‘Business Partners to CONVINCE’, told Reuters.

Business Partners to CONVINCE, a U.S./UK initiative that is partly government funded, conducted the survey jointly with VCP and the results were broadly in line with a Reuters/Ipsos poll of the U.S. public in May.

“We just see this distrust growing against science and government,” said Ratzan.

“We need to address legitimate concerns about the rapid pace of development, political over-promises and the risks of vaccination.”

The VCP/Business Partners’ survey, expected to be published in a few weeks, will also show that Chinese participants were the most trusting of vaccines, while Russians were the least so, Ratzan said.

Drugmakers and governments had hoped the scale of the COVID-19 crisis would allay concerns about vaccines, which they see as crucial to defeating the pandemic and enabling economies to fully recover from its impact.

Vaccine hesitancy – or the reluctance or refusal to be vaccinated – is also known as “anti-vax”, a term that is sometimes associated with conspiracy theories when often it simply reflects many people’s concerns about side-effects or industry ethics.

In January 2019 the World Health Organisation named vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 global health threats for that year.

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In Europe, scepticism among the public was high before the pandemic due to a range of factors including negative coverage of pharmaceutical companies as well as false theories including suggested links between childhood immunisations and autism.

Only 70% of French people considered vaccines safe in a 2018 survey commissioned by the European Union executive. The EU average was 82%, but trust fell to 68% for the shot against seasonal flu.

The VCP project on vaccine trust, funded by the European Commission and pharmaceutical companies among others, aims to identify early signs and causes of public mistrust and tackle them with information campaigns before it is too late.

Larson said headlines referring to Warp Speed – the name of the U.S. operation aimed at delivering a COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. population by next year – could increase vaccine hesitancy even more than perceptions that the disease could become less lethal.

“One of the most frequent things that comes up in people’s conversations is concerns about how quick it is. If I have to pick one theme that is more recurrent than others it is this one,” Larson said.

Data collected by VCP from social media show that by the end of June about 40% of Britons’ posts concerning a COVID-19 vaccine, for example, were negative, with many distrusting any coronavirus vaccine and the medical establishment.

Announcements about fast progress in COVID vaccines in Russia and China in particular could also contribute to rising scepticism. “We don’t have transparency and don’t know how accurate or valid their data are,” Ratzan said, adding that errors there could boost scepticism elsewhere.

Key for any information campaign to be successful is to tailor it to different audiences as there is no uniform profile of anti-vaxxers, said Kate Elder of Doctors Without Borders, a non-governmental organisation.

“They go from the highly educated to those who don’t believe in science,” she said, urging politicians to be more careful in their messages on vaccines and to better explain the reasons behind potentially fast results against COVID-19.

“We are exploring the idea of a chatbot that will speak in different languages,” said Ratzan, adding it could be something similar to Smokey Bear, the U.S. Forest Service’s campaign to educate about preventing wildfires.

“Different parts of the world will require different strategies. We know we need to tailor it and to be specific,” he said.

Risks are high if hesitancy is not addressed quickly.

During the 2009 swine flu pandemic, growing scepticism about the vaccine led to a failure of the vaccination campaign in France, where only 8% of the population got a shot against the virus which is estimated to have killed around 280,000 people across the world.

A study published in May in the Lancet by a group of French scientists warned of similar risks now in the country where vaccine hesitancy went up from 18% in mid-March when a lockdown was imposed on the French to 26% by the end of that month.

“Distrust is likely to become an issue when the vaccine will be made available,” the scientists concluded.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio in Brussels and Josephine Mason in London; Editing by Susan Fenton

Source: – Reuters

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Indigo Cautious consumer to remain until COVID-19 vaccine

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TORONTO — Canadian customers likely won’t start frequenting stores for items not on their shopping list until there’s a vaccine for COVID-19, Indigo Books & Music Inc. founder and chief executive said Friday.

“I think our own view is that customers will continue well, well into the months ahead to make shopping an activity they do when they have something specific to buy,” Heather Reisman said during a conference call with analysts. The company released its first-quarter financial results after markets closed Thursday.

Foot traffic is “still way down” for the book retailer, which shuttered all its stores to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and only reopened nearly all 182 of its locations by the end of its most recent quarter.

The Toronto-based company’s revenue for the 13 weeks ended June 27 fell to $135.1 million from $192.6 million due to store closures. It recorded a net loss of about $31.6 million or $1.15 per common share compared with a loss of about $19.1 million or 69 cents per share in the same quarter last year.

Since reopening, retail store sales have tracked at about 72 per cent of sales at the same time last year, said chief financial officer Craig Loudon.

However conversion and average transaction size are both “way up,” noted Reisman.

“So, that’s saying that you’ve got a deliberate customer and we think that that’s going to remain, frankly, until there’s a vaccine.”

In Canada, people watch the news and are afraid of the virus, she said.

“So, all in all, we predict that the retail consumer will remain a cautious consumer,” she said.

The company is working to make the shopping experience easy and safe and is planning for the important holiday shopping season although it remains to be seen how consumers behave during a usually busy period.

The company accelerated efforts during the first quarter to help serve customers safely during the holiday season, including “a robust click-and-collect capability and Instacart service,” said Reisman. These efforts should be implemented in the current quarter.

The company’s e-commerce revenue grew threefold, jumping up 214 per cent for the quarter compared with last year. That demand “has moderated, but remained strong” as stores reopened, said Loudon.

Indigo’s shares, which have plunged from a high of $8.06 last August, surged 19 per cent or 20 cents at $1.25 in afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 7, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:IDG)

The Canadian Press

Source: NewmarketToday.ca

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