- Health Canada approves Spartan Bioscience’s previously recalled rapid COVID-19 test.
- The pros and cons of naming workplaces that have COVID-19 outbreaks.
- Israel includes teens in vaccination drive, plans to close Ben Gurion Airport to nearly all flights.
- Belgium bans foreign tourism to avoid third COVID-19 wave.
- New Zealand reports 1st community case in more than 2 months.
- Montreal woman says mother with dementia accidentally given Pfizer vaccine after receiving dose of Moderna.
- P.E.I. to ease some COVID-19 restrictions.
- Tracking the coronavirus: Where is the pandemic getting better or worse?
- Do you have a tip or question about the pandemic? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca
An Ottawa company’s made-in-Canada rapid COVID-19 test has been approved, Health Canada confirmed on Saturday.
The test developed by Spartan Bioscience is performed by a health-care professional and provides on-site results within an hour, a spokesperson for the federal agency said.
The company originally unveiled a rapid test for COVID-19 last spring but had to voluntarily recall it and perform additional studies after Health Canada expressed some reservations about the “efficacy of the proprietary swab” for the device.
WATCH | Health Canada approves Canadian-made rapid COVID-19 testing system:
Meanwhile, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, warned that COVID-19 continues to strain the health-care system even as daily case counts decline in several long-standing hot spots.
“Stringent and consistent efforts are needed to sustain a downward trend in case counts and strongly suppress COVID-19 activity across Canada,” Tam said in a statement. “This will not only prevent more tragic outcomes but will help to ensure that new virus variants of concern do not have the opportunity to spread.”
What’s happening across Canada
As of 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 746,406 cases of COVID-19, with 63,625 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 19,065.
In British Columbia, 20 people in custody at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam have tested positive for COVID-19. The Fraser Health Authority announced the outbreak on Friday and said it is working to identify others who may have had contact with those who tested positive at the jail.
Alberta saw 573 new COVID-19 cases and 13 additional deaths on Saturday.
Saskatchewan recorded 274 new COVID-19 cases and three new deaths.
WATCH | CBC medical contributor answers your COVID-19 questions:
Manitoba announced 216 new cases and three more deaths. The latest update comes on the day strict restrictions for much of the province eased, following recent drops in case numbers.
Ontario reported 2,417 new COVID-19 cases and 50 more deaths on Sunday.
WATCH | Teenage long-term care worker dies of COVID-19:
Quebec on Sunday registered 1,457 new cases and 41 additional deaths, which were reported between Jan. 17 and Jan. 22.
New Brunswick reported 17 new cases on Saturday. Ten of those cases were in the Edmundston region in the northwest, which was set to go into a lockdown first thing Sunday morning.
Nova Scotia saw one new case on Sunday. On Friday, Premier Stephen McNeil said almost all of the province’s public health restrictions will remain until at least Feb. 7, but some restrictions in sports, arts and culture will be eased starting Monday.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on both Saturday and Sunday after seeing one new case on Friday; one person remains in hospital in the province due to COVID-19.
In Prince Edward Island, larger organized gatherings and later hours for bars and restaurants are now allowed as the province eases some of its COVID-19 restrictions.
Nunavut announced a second active case in the hard-hit community of Arviat. The new case comes a day after the territory confirmed its first new infection since Dec. 28.
What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday, more than 98.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 54.6 million of the cases considered resolved or recovered, according to the coronavirus tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.1 million.
In Europe, Belgium is banning residents from taking vacations abroad until March to limit the spread of more infectious coronavirus variants and avoid a deadly third wave of COVID-19 cases. The government says travel into or out of Belgium for recreation or tourism is prohibited from Jan. 27 to March 1.
Belgium has one of the world’s highest per-capita death tolls from COVID-19. It has had nearly 700,000 cases and more than 20,000 deaths. But it now has a lower rate of infections than its neighbours and has avoided the total lockdowns of Britain, the Netherlands and Germany.
Meanwhile, in the U.K., police broke up an illegal rave in the London borough of Hackney, where about 300 people gathered under a railway arch. The BBC reports nearly 80 fines were issued for breach of lockdown restrictions.
300 people decided to put themselves, their families and the wider community at risk last night by packing into a railway arch in Hackney for an illegal rave. Officers issued more than £15,000 in fines for the blatant Covid breaches. More here > <a href=”https://t.co/J4p4PlDwWB”>https://t.co/J4p4PlDwWB</a> <a href=”https://t.co/l8Hz3XTKAh”>pic.twitter.com/l8Hz3XTKAh</a>
In the Middle East, Israel expanded its COVID-19 vaccination drive on Sunday to include 16- to 18-year-olds in what the government described as an effort to enable their attendance at school exams.
Israel, which has the world’s fastest vaccine distribution rate, is hoping to begin reopening its economy next month.
Israel will also be closing Ben Gurion Airport to nearly all flights to help bring the coronavirus outbreak under control, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.
“We are closing the skies hermetically, except for really rare exceptions, to prevent the entry of virus mutations,” he said.
Israeli media said the closure of the country’s busiest international airport, 25 kilometres southeast of Tel Aviv, would begin on Tuesday and remain in effect until Jan. 31.
New Zealand has reported its first coronavirus case outside of a quarantine facility in more than two months, although there was no immediate evidence the virus was spreading in the community.
Ashley Bloomfield, the director general of health, said on Sunday that the case was a 56-year-old woman who recently returned from Europe.
Like other returning travellers, she spent 14 days in quarantine and twice tested negative before returning home on Jan. 13. She later developed symptoms and tested positive.
Bloomfield said health officials are investigating to see whether its possible she caught the disease from another returning traveler who was staying in the same quarantine facility.
BC reports 564 new COVID-19 cases and four new deaths on March 4th – Victoria Buzz
The B.C. Ministry of Health reported 564 new cases of COVID-19 across the province on Thursday March 4th, for a total of 82,473 cases since the pandemic began.
New cases were reported in these health regions:
Vancouver Coastal Health: 168
Fraser Health: 279
Island Health: 35
Interior Health: 36
Northern Health: 46
The number of active cases in B.C. increased from 4,654 to 4,743.
There are now a total of 248 people in hospital due to COVID-19, 63 of whom are in critical care — ICU or acute care units.
Four new people have died from COVID-related causes, bringing the provincial death toll to 1,376.
8,659 people are under active public health monitoring after exposure to COVID-19.
A total of 76,289 people have recovered from novel coronavirus.
There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks.
There are seven active outbreaks in long-term facilities, three in independent living centres, and eight in acute-care facilities.
Outbreaks and other exposure events can be linked to from the BC Centre for Disease Control website.
More COVID-19 coverage from Victoria Buzz, including local exposures and outbreaks.
Island Health is reporting 36 new COVID-19 cases today.
There are 272 active cases remaining in the region, according to Island Health. By Health Service Delivery Area, they are:
- South Island: 50 (+9) | Total cases: 646 (+14)
- Central Island: 154 (-5)| Total cases: 1,420 (+17)
- North Island: 68 (0) | Total cases: 411 (+5)
One new death was reported in the Island Health region. There are a total of 27 deaths to date.
17 people are currently hospitalized in the Island Health region, including one person in intensive care units.
Vaccinations and Variants
To date, 298,851 (+9,042) doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 86,746 (+130) of which are second doses.
There have been 46 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in our province.
Of the total number of 246 confirmed variant cases, 16 cases are active and the remaining people have recovered.
Of the total, 218 cases were of the UK variant and 28 cases were of the South Africa variant.
Variant cases have been reported in these health regions:
Vancouver Coastal Health: 60
Fraser Health: 178
Island Health: 6
Interior Health: 2
Some links include:
At the time of this publication, 116,156,575 cases of COVID-19 had been recorded worldwide. 2,579,265 have died, and 91,775,629 have recovered.
331 new COVID cases in Alberta including 18 in Lethbridge – Lethbridge News Now
Since yesterday’s update, nine Albertans died from COVID including three each in the Calgary and Central Zones, two in the Edmonton Zone, and one in the North Zone. To date, 1,911 Albertans died from the virus.
Provincially, 245 patients are currently hospitalized including 47 who have been admitted to intensive care.
With another 9,483 tests conducted over the past day, there has now been a total of 3,444,062 tests completed on 1,829,402 different people.
266,231 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Albertan as of the end of March 3.
Approximately 176,000 Albertans have received at least one dose including 90,000 who have gotten two shots.
Below is a graph of how COVID-19 cases in Alberta have trended since the start of the pandemic, which can also be accessed with more detail here.
Another 33 cases of COVID-19 variants have been found in the province since yesterday’s update. None are in the South Zone.
Below is a breakdown of cases per regional health zone:
- Edmonton Zone – 54,086 cases, 1,082 active
- 76 in hospital, 16 in ICU
- 974 deaths (two deaths)
- Calgary Zone – 51,577 cases, 1,645 active
- 82 in hospital, 14 in ICU
- 590 deaths (three new)
- North Zone – 12,133 cases, 1,009 active
- 27 in hospital, two in ICU
- 140 deaths (one new)
- Central Zone – 10,277 cases, 545 active
- 30 in hospital, nine in ICU
- 115 deaths (three new)
- South Zone – 6,612 cases, 326 active
- 30 in hospital, six in ICU
- 92 deaths
Below is a breakdown of cases in the South Health Zone:
- Brooks – 1,362 cases, one active, 14 deaths
- Lethbridge – 2,199 cases (18 new), 223 active, 20 deaths
- South Lethbridge – 742 cases (two new), 65 active, 16 deaths
- West Lethbridge – 734 cases (five new), 55 active, two deaths
- North Lethbridge – 722 cases (11 new), 103 active, two deaths
- Cardston County – 619 cases (three new), 53 active, 12 deaths
- Medicine Hat – 557 cases, 18 active, 17 deaths
- Lethbridge County – 549 cases (two new), 16 active, seven deaths
- M.D. of Taber – 340 cases, five active, six deaths
- M.D. of Pincher Creek – 218 cases, three active, five deaths
- County of Warner – 162 cases, zero active, three deaths
- County of Newell – 160 cases, one active, two deaths
- Cypress County – 145 cases, one active, zero deaths
- County of Forty Mile – 117 cases, zero active, two deaths
- Fort Macleod – 101 cases, five active, four deaths
- Crowsnest Pass – 24 cases, zero active, zero deaths
EU, Italy halt AstraZeneca vaccine shipment to Australia – CBC.ca
A shipment of over a quarter million AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines destined for Australia has been blocked from leaving the European Union, in the first use of an export control system instituted by the bloc to make sure big pharmaceutical companies would respect their contracts.
The move, affecting only a small number of vaccines, underscores a growing frustration within the 27-nation bloc about the slow rollout of its vaccine drive and the shortfall of promised vaccine deliveries, especially by Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca.
The ban came at the behest of Italy, and the EU did not raise objections to the tougher line Rome has adopted in dealing with vaccine shortages in the bloc since a new government led by Mario Draghi came into power last month.
Italy’s objections centred both on the general shortage of supplies in the EU and on “the delays in the supply of vaccines by AstraZeneca to the EU and Italy,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.
It said it also intervened because of the size of the shipment, more than 250,700 doses, that would go to Australia, which it did not consider a vulnerable nation.
Italy said it had informed the company on Tuesday. AstraZeneca refused to comment. The Financial Times first reported on the issue late Thursday.
The EU’s export controls previously raised concerns in Canada over whether they could affect vaccine delivery here. But the European Commission signalled in February that the export controls would only be used “in very limited cases.” At that time, CBC News reported that a vaccine delivery to Canada had already been authorized.
WATCH | Tension over delivery of needed vaccines:
Shortages prompt control effort
Faced with shortages of doses during the early stages of the vaccine campaign that started in late December, the EU issued an export control system for COVID-19 vaccines in late January, forcing companies to respect their contractual obligations to the bloc before commercial exports can be approved.
The EU has been specifically angry with AstraZeneca because it is delivering far fewer doses to the bloc than it had promised. Of the initial order for 80 million doses to the EU in the first quarter, the company will be struggling to deliver just half that quantity.
There were rumours that the company was siphoning off from EU production plants to other nations, but CEO Pascal Soriot insisted that any shortfall was to be blamed on technical production issues only.
The EU has vaccinated only eight per cent per cent of its population compared to over 30 per cent, for example, in the United Kingdom. Australia is still very much at the start of its vaccination drive.
With such an action, the EU is caught in a bind. On the one hand, it is under intense pressure to ramp up the production of vaccines in the bloc while on the other hand it wants to remain an attractive hub for pharmaceutical giants and a fair trading partner to third countries.
The EU thought it had made perfect preparations for the rollout of vaccinations, heavily funding research and production capacity over the past year. With its 450 million people, the EU has signed deals for six different vaccines. In total, it has ordered up to 400 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and sealed agreements with other companies for more than two billion shots.
It says that despite the current difficulties it is still convinced it can vaccinate 70 per cent of the adult population by the end of summer.
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