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COVID-19 curve bending down in B.C. after mid-November peak: top doctor – Vancouver Courier

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VICTORIA — COVID-19 cases in British Columbia are levelling off after peaking in mid-November, though the province’s top doctor warns now is not the time to relax public health rules.

The majority of cases are being traced to known infections and outbreaks, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday.

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However, keeping up with contact tracing is still a challenge, particularly in the hard-hit Fraser Health region, she said.

The Northern Health authority has also been stretched in recent weeks, said Henry, who is issuing a new public health order requiring a slower, phased startup for industrial work camps in the new year.

The nature of the camps means employees frequently travel to and from the sites and there’s usually an influx of workers in January, elevating the risk of illness spreading to nearby communities, she said.

When presenting the latest modelling data, Henry showed the reproductive number for the illness has dipped slightly below one, meaning on average, someone who’s infected may not transmit COVID-19 to anyone.

She said that shows ongoing public health rules are working, though she urged people to stick to their own households over the holidays as hundreds of people are still testing positive for COVID-19 every day.

Henry points to the week of Dec. 15 to 21 as one of the most challenging throughout the pandemic, as 109 people died after contracting the illness.

B.C. recorded 518 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 19 more people have died, pushing the death toll in the province to 796.

Young and middle-aged adults continue to be overrepresented among cases, particularly those between the ages of 20 and 29, government figures show.

School-aged children are underrepresented among those who’ve tested positive, Henry said, presenting data showing seven in 10 schools have not confirmed any exposures to COVID-19 and the vast majority of exposure events haven’t led to transmission in school settings.

B.C. also has word that it could receive the first doses of the newly approved Moderna vaccine as early as Monday, said Henry.

More than 5,600 people have been immunized so far with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the province.

The latest vaccine comes in trays of 1,200 doses that can be broken down into smaller quantities than the Pfizer-BioNTech offering, making it easier to transport and deliver to remote communities and long-term care homes, Henry said.

While the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be stored at ultra-low temperature in freezers, Moderna’s can be stored in the fridge for longer periods, she noted.

B.C. has identified 10 remote First Nation communities that should receive doses of the vaccine as soon as it arrives in the province.

In the new year, the focus of B.C.’s immunization program will shift to include people over the age of 80 living in the community, as well as people experiencing homelessness and those using shelter services, Henry said.

The province is expecting to receive 792,000 doses of both vaccines between January and March, said Henry, allowing about 549,000 people to receive their first dose and another 240,000 to receive their second.

— by Brenna Owen in Vancouver

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 23, 2020.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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Dentists, teachers disappointed they won't be prioritized for vaccine in B.C. – St. Albert Today

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VANCOUVER — Dentists, bus drivers and teachers are among the essential workers who are disappointed they won’t be given priority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in British Columbia.

B.C. rolled out its vaccination plan on Friday, revealing that after the most vulnerable groups have been immunized, shots will be given out according to age, with the oldest residents first in line.

That means many people who have not been able to work from home during the pandemic, including grocery store workers, police officers and mail carriers, will have to wait to get the vaccine along with others in their age group.

The British Columbia Dental Association has written a letter to Premier John Horgan strongly urging him to include dentists in Stage 2 of the vaccination plan, alongside family doctors and medical specialists.

“Dentistry is an essential service. More importantly, dental care, including aerosol-generating dental procedures, are provided to patients who cannot wear a mask during treatment,” said association president Dr. Anthony Nadolski in the letter.

“B.C. dentists continue to do everything they can to ensure dental offices are safe for patients and staff. Early access to vaccines will ensure continued access to urgent and emergency dental care.”

Other agencies such as the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have included dentists and dental workers in Stage 2 along with doctors and specialists not directly involved in providing care to COVID-19 patients, Nadolski added.

More recently, Ontario included dentistry in its second stage because dentists generally provide in-person care and many dental procedures are urgent and cannot be delayed, he said.

The B.C. Ministry of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

The province initially suggested that people delivering essential services such as teachers, grocery store workers and those in law enforcement could be prioritized to get the vaccine. 

But when the finalized plan was released on Friday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said scientific evidence supports an age-based approach because older populations are at much higher risk of infection and death from COVID-19.

Currently, hospital workers, Indigenous communities and long-term care home residents, staff and essential visitors are among those being vaccinated in Stage 1 of the plan.

Stage 2 will begin in February and include people 80 and over, Indigenous seniors over 65, general practitioners and medical specialists.

In April, the province will start vaccinating the general public according to five-year age groupings, starting with seniors aged 75 to 79 before moving on to those aged 70 to 74 and so on.  

However, Henry added that the approval of more vaccines may mean the province’s plan could be revised to vaccinate essential workers between April and June.

Metro Vancouver bus drivers are “very disappointed” they will not be prioritized while they risk their lives to provide transportation to the public, said Balbir Mann, president of Unifor Local 111.

The union is calling on the provincial government to immediately change the plan and include transit operators in Stage 2.

“We’re basically frontline workers, taking people to work and grocery shopping. Our members are real heroes,” said Mann. “They’re putting their lives in front of this to help out the general public.”

Teachers are also disappointed there is no prioritization for front-line workers who have kept schools, public services and the economy open, said B.C. Teachers Federation President Teri Mooring.

“However, the vaccine supply limit is beyond our control and those among us who are most vulnerable of death and serious illness must be vaccinated first,” she said in a statement. 

Hopefully more vaccines are approved and the immunization strategy will be appropriately adjusted and accelerated, she said.

Mooring added if teachers are not prioritized for vaccines, the government must take immediate action to improve safety measures in schools, including mandatory masks, better physical distancing and ventilation upgrades.

“There is no denying that teachers are stressed, anxious and even afraid. We do not have the layers of protection in our schools that exist in other environments.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021.

Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press

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A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Jan. 24, 2021 – BarrieToday

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The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Sunday Jan. 24, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 15,213 new vaccinations administered for a total of 816,451 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 2,154.265 per 100,000.

There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 1,122,450 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 72.74 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.

Newfoundland is reporting 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 16,500 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 51.81 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

P.E.I. is reporting 1,423 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 6,525 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 41.134 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 9,225 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 70.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nova Scotia is reporting 2,975 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,575 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.836 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 28,850 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 36.66 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 21,675 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 48.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Quebec is reporting 8,503 new vaccinations administered for a total of 218,755 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 25.565 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 238,100 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 91.88 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Ontario is reporting 4,427 new vaccinations administered for a total of 280,573 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.101 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 411,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.16 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Manitoba is reporting 1,389 new vaccinations administered for a total of 28,941 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.017 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 55,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 52.01 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Saskatchewan is reporting 654 new vaccinations administered for a total of 33,039 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 28.019 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 32,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 101 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Alberta is reporting 240 new vaccinations administered for a total of 99,047 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.50 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 122,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 80.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 110,566 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.546 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 144,550 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.49 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,730 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 89.382 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 35 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 25.9 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,893 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 41.956 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 32 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 13.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,822 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 98.693 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 12,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 31 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 31.85 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

*Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 24, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Military to support vaccination efforts in northern Ontario Indigenous communities – pentictonherald.ca

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TORONTO – The Canadian military is set to help with COVID-19 vaccine distribution in northern Ontario, as officials investigate the death of a teenager who had the virus and worked at a long-term care home in the province’s southwest.

Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair tweeted Sunday that the Canadian Armed Forces will support vaccine efforts in 32 communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. The move came after a request from the province for assistance in getting vaccine to First Nations communities, he wrote.

“ur government will always be there to support the fight against #COVID19,” he wrote on Twitter.

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation, whose territory comprises 49 remote communities in northwestern Ontario, did not immediately comment on the pending deployment.

Meanwhile, officials in Middlesex-London said Sunday that a male teen who worked in a long-term care facility in the region was among the three deaths reported on the area’s COVID-19 case site earlier in the weekend.

Dr. Alexander Summers, associate medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit, said he couldn’t provide the exact age or any other details about the teen.

But he said the person was a staff member of the long-term care home who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and died earlier in the week.

“Through the course of our investigation, the potential exposures could be many, but certainly the long-term care home is a potential exposure for this individual,” Summers said in an interview.

Summers said to his knowledge, the teen was not hospitalized with COVID-19.

He is the youngest person to have died after contracting the virus in the county, Summers said, noting the majority of deaths they’ve seen among COVID-19 patients have been in an older demographic.

“It can have severe impacts on people of all ages and this story and this unfortunate and tragic situation as a reminder of that,” Summers said.

“Certainly, this is a very rare occurrence. It’s a rare event. And the investigation continues as to understanding what exactly might have happened. However, regardless, it’s a sad day.”

The Roberta Place Retirement Lodge long-term care home in Barrie, Ont., north of Toronto, also made headlines over the weekend after health officials said a U.K. variant of COVID-19 was behind a deadly outbreak there.

On Sunday, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said it had learned of an additional individual with the U.K. variant within the region.

The unit said that individual had close contact with a person who is also part of a COVID-19 outbreak at Bradford Valley Care Community, a long-term care home in Bradford West Gwillimbury, south of Barrie.

Officials are now investigating whether that outbreak is also due to the U.K. variant.

Ontario reported 2,417 new cases of COVID-19 and 50 more deaths related to the virus on Sunday.

The numbers were slightly up from Saturday’s 2,359 cases, though deaths declined by two from previous figures.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 785 new cases in Toronto, 404 in Peel Region, 215 in York Region and 121 in Niagara.

Over 48,900 tests had been completed in Ontario over the past 24 hours.

The province reported that 4,427 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since the province’s last report, and 1,436 are hospitalized with the virus.

A total of 280,573 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario so far.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 255,002 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario. Of those, 225,046 have recovered and 5,803 people have died.

On Monday, the province plans to issue the results of a weekend-long expansion of its “inspection blitz” of big-box stores to ensure they were following COVID-19 guidelines.

The workplace inspections, which started in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas last weekend, stretched out to Ottawa, Windsor, Niagara and Durham regions.

Preliminary figures from Saturday showed inspectors went into 310 big-box stores and issued 34 tickets and 53 orders, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said Sunday.

Overall, inspectors found the stores were only at “64 per cent compliance, which the minister said wasn’t good enough.

“The three big issues that we’re finding this weekend: masking protocols aren’t being followed, in some cases; the physical distancing is still an issue in some stores; and this weekend we found that some of these big-box stores don’t have a safety plan that’s required of them to prevent COVID-19 from coming into the workplace,” McNaughton said in an interview.

“Every business should know at this point in the pandemic what’s expected of them.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said there had been 102 deaths in Ontario over the past 24 hours. There were, in fact, 50 deaths.

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