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COVID-19 in B.C.: New case counts exceed 300 per day, 14 schools with new exposures, and more – The Georgia Straight

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B.C. deputy health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson, who was filling in for Dr. Bonnie Henry at today B.C. COVID-19 update, and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix expressed concern about the extremely high case numbers that were registered over the past weekend.

However, these new cases aren’t linked to events that occured over the Halloween weekend—which included a mass congregation of people in the Downtown Vancouver core, fights, stabbings, and fires—as symptoms take up to 14 days to manifest.

“All of us could see what was going on on Granville Street,” Dix said of the large gathering of partiers on Halloween night. “It was on TV. It was on social media, and I can imagine the frustration of the millions of British Columbians who are following the rules.”

Dix also pointed out that these types of visible public events tend to gain a lot of attention, such as previous gatherings at English Bay did.

However, what people aren’t seeing on social media or on the news are the private parties that have been held at homes which been a major concern and have been contributing to the increases in cases.

Gustafson, who added that we are now entering the 11th month of the pandemic, pointed out that as the weather has become colder and people have moved indoors, “we are going to see fluctuations and surges in some communities”.

She explained that transmissions have tended to occur at large gatherings at peoples’ private homes where there isn’t a safety plan in place, rather than restaurants or venues that have safety protocols in place.

For those who have to have a social gathering or event, Gustafson recommended holding it at a restaurant or venue that has an established safety plan.

“So many places in British Columbia have learned how to operate safely,” she said.

When it comes to workplace transmission, she said they are mostly seeing transmission among social networks gathering outside of the workplace.

With regards to the recent provincial election, Gustafson said they review all types of places where transmission is occurring but there haven’t been any transmission traced to polling stations.

Meanwhile, there were 14 schools with new exposure dates (all in Fraser Health), and seven flights and six stores with confirmed cases.  

New case counts were significantly higher than previous weeks, and all of the new case counts over the past three consecutive days have each exceeded 300 cases. 

Gustafson said at today’s briefing that B.C. had a total of 1,120 new cases over the three days over the past weekend, including:

• October 30 to 31: 352 new cases;

• October 31 to November 1: 389 new cases, which is a new record high;

• November 1 to 2: 379 new cases.

By region, that includes:

  • 830 cases in Fraser Health;
  • 234 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
  • 36 in Interior Health;
  • 10 in Northern Health;
  • nine in Island Health;
  • 90 people from outside Canada.

Currently, there are 2,945 active cases—an increase of 555 cases over the span of the three time periods since October 30.

At the moment, 90 people are in hospital (an increase of 12 people since October 30), with 19 of those patients in intensive care units (six less people than October 30).

Public health is monitoring 6,448 people for exposure to confirmed cases, which is 445 more people than October 39.

There are three new healthcare outbreaks:

  • Hamilton Village Care Centre (23111 Garripie Avenue) in Richmond, where Vancouver Coastal Health stated that it imposed restrictions on the first floor on October 29;
  • Good Samaritan Delta View Care Centre (9341 Burns Drive) in Delta, which had one staff member test positive;
  • Rotary Manor (1121 90th Avenue) in Dawson Creek, which had one staff member test positive and Northern Health stated that the last exposure date was on October 25.

Fraser Health declared the outbreak at Baillie House (11762 Laity Street) in Maple Ridge as over on November 1.

Active outbreaks are currently at 28 healthcare outbreaks—26 in longterm care facilities and two acute care units.

There aren’t any new community outbreaks.

In addition, Fraser Health declared the community outbreaks at Valhalla Distribution/MSJ Distribution (7848 Hoskins Street) in Delta and J&L Beef Ltd. (17565 65A Avenue) in Surrey as both being over as of October 31.

Tragically, there have been six deaths (five in Vancouver Coastal Health and one in Fraser Health), for a total of 269 deaths in B.C. during the pandemic.

During the pandemic, a cumulative total of 15,501 cases have been confirmed in B.C., including:

• 9,049 in Fraser Health;

• 4,898 in Vancouver Coastal Health;

• 777 in Interior Health;

• 422 in Northern Health;

• 265 in Island Health; 

• 90 people from outside Canada.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix
Province of British Columbia

Six grocery stores and pharmacies have reported having staff members who tested positive.

Sobeys announced that an employee at Thrifty Foods (102–15745 Croydon Drive) in Surrey, who last worked at the location on October 26, has tested positive.

Loblaw has announced each of the following stores had one employee who tested positive:

  • Real Canadian Superstore (2332 160th Street) in Surrey, with the last exposure date on October 19;
  • Shoppers Drug Mart (8180 No. 2 Road) in Richmond, with the last exposure date on October 23;
  • Loblaws City Market (1650 Lonsdale Avenue) in North Vancouver, with the last exposure date on October 24;
  • Real Canadian Superstore (8195 Scott Road) in Delta, with the last exposure date on October 25;
  • Shoppers Drug Mart (4295 Blackcomb Way) in Whistler, with the last exposure date on October 28.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control added the following seven flights confirmed with COVID-19 to its list (with affected row information available on its website):

• October 18: Flair 8186, Edmonton to Prince George;

• October 19: United Airlines 466, Denver to Vancouver;

• October 21: Air Canada 103, Toronto to Vancouver;

• October 23: Air Canada 127, Toronto to Vancouver;

• October 23: WestJet 725, Toronto to Vancouver;

• October 28: WestJet 725, Toronto to Vancouver;

• October 30: WestJet 183, Calgary to Kelowna.

Anyone in the affected rows or on these flights should watch for symptoms for 14 days and immediately self-isolate if symptoms develop while contacting 811 or your local healthcare provider for testing information.

École Westwood Elementary

Fraser Health—the only regional health authority to report new exposure incidents at school—added 14 schools with new exposure dates.

In Abbotsford, Abbotsford Dasmesh Punjabi (5930 Riverside Street) had an exposure event from October 20 to 21

In Coquitlam, Mundy Elementary (2200 Austin Avenue), which previously had an exposure incident on October 6, has had another exposure event from October 20 to 22

In Port Coquitlam, École Westwood Elementary (3610 Hastings Street) had exposures from October 19 to 22 and 26.

In Langley, two schools had new exposure dates:

  • Langley Fundamental Elementary (21789 50th Avenue) had an exposure incident on October 22;
  • Global Montessori School (19785 55A Avenue), which previously had exposure events from October 19 to 22, had added October 23 and 26 as additional dates.

In Surrey, there were nine schools with new dates, including:

• Cloverdale Catholic School (17511 59th Avenue) had an exposure event from October 21 to 22;

• Dr. F.D. Sinclair Elementary (7480 128th Street), which had a previous exposure event from October 5 to 6, has had another exposure event from October 20 to 22;

• École Panorama Ridge Secondary (13220 64th Avenue)—which previously had exposures on September 8 and 10; from September 30 to October 1; from October 6 to 9; from October 13 to 15; and from October 19 to 20—has had more exposures from October 21 to 22;

• Enver Creek Secondary (14505 84th Avenue), which previously had exposures on October 9 and October 14, had a new exposure on October 26;

• Fleetwood Park Secondary (7940 156th Street), which previously had an exposure incident on October 1, has had an exposure event from October 20 to 21;

• Sikh Academy—Newton (12895 85th Avenue), which had a previous exposure on October 14, has additional exposure dates from October 19 to 22 and 26;

• Sullivan Heights Secondary (6248 144th Street)—which had previous incidents on September 8; from September 30 to October 1; from October 13 to 15 and 19; and from October 20 to 22—has added October 30 to its exposure dates;

• Sunrise Ridge Elementary (18690 60th Avenue) had an exposure on October 21;

• Surrey Centre Elementary (16670 Old McLellan Road) had an exposure on October 22.

Surrey Centre Elementary

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Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 161.42 million, death toll at 3,488,751

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More than 161.42 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 3,488,751​ have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/2FThSv7 in an external browser.

Eikon users can click  for a case tracker.

The following table lists the top 50 countries by the number of reported cases. A complete list is available with the above links.

COUNTRIES AND TOTAL DEATHS CONFIRMED DEATHS PER

TERRITORIES CASES 10,000

INHABITANTS

United States 584,768 32,926,288 17.9

India 262,317 24,046,809 1.94

Brazil 430,417 15,433,989 20.55

France 107,423 5,848,154 16.04

Turkey 44,301 5,095,390 5.38

Russia 254,590 4,922,901 17.62

United Kingdom 127,668 4,446,824 19.21

Italy 123,927 4,146,722 20.51

Spain 79,339 3,604,799 16.95

Germany 85,903 3,579,871 10.36

Argentina 69,254 3,242,103 15.56

Colombia 79,760 3,067,879 16.06

Poland 71,311 2,849,014 18.78

Iran 76,433 2,732,152 9.34

Mexico 219,901 2,375,115 17.43

Ukraine 47,620 2,143,448 10.67

Peru 65,316 1,873,316 20.02

Indonesia 47,823 1,734,285 1.79

Czech Republic 29,857 1,651,178 28.09

South Africa 55,012 1,605,252 9.52

Netherlands 17,423 1,589,282 10.11

Canada 24,825 1,312,408 6.7

Chile 27,520 1,266,601 14.69

Iraq 15,910 1,134,859 4.14

Philippines 18,958 1,131,467 1.78

Romania 29,413 1,070,605 15.11

Sweden 14,275 1,037,126 14.03

Belgium 24,645 1,026,473 21.56

Pakistan 19,384 873,220 0.91

Portugal 16,999 841,379 16.53

Israel 6,379 839,076 7.18

Hungary 29,041 796,390 29.71

Bangladesh 12,102 779,535 0.75

Jordan 9,203 722,754 9.24

Serbia 6,646 705,185 9.52

Switzerland 10,179 679,510 11.96

Japan 11,396 673,821 0.9

Austria 10,455 635,780 11.83

United Arab Emirates 1,626 543,610 1.69

Lebanon 7,569 534,968 11.05

Morocco 9,091 514,670 2.52

Malaysia 1,822 462,190 0.58

Nepal 4,669 439,658 1.66

Saudi Arabia 7,134 431,432 2.12

Bulgaria 17,194 413,320 24.48

Ecuador 19,442 405,783 11.38

Slovakia 12,168 387,162 22.34

Greece 11,322 373,881 10.55

Belarus 2,681 373,351 2.83

Panama 6,288 369,455 15.05

Source: Reuters tally based on statements from health ministries and government officials

Generated at 10:00 GMT.

 

(Editing by David Clarke)

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Canada plots course to fully vaccinated return to gatherings in fall

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Canada on Friday said there would be a gradual return to a world with indoor sports and family gatherings as more people get vaccinated, but it did not go as far as the United States in telling people they could eventually ditch their masks.

Canada has administered one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to just over half its adult population, and the country may be over the worst of its current third wave of infections, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places, guidance the agency said will allow life to begin to return to normal.

On Friday, Canada‘s public health agency offered guidelines to the 10 provinces, which are responsible for public health restrictions.

The agency says once 75% of Canadians have had a single dose and 20% are fully vaccinated, some restrictions can be relaxed to allow small, outdoor gatherings with family and friends, camping, and picnics.

Once 75% of those eligible are fully vaccinated in the fall, indoor sports and family gatherings can be allowed again.

“I think masks might be the last layer of that multi-layer protection that we’ll advise people to remove,” Tam told reporters, noting that in Canada colder temperatures meant people would start spending more time indoors in the fall.

“We are taking a bit of a different approach to the United States,” she added. While in most of Canada masks are not required outdoors, they are mandatory indoors.

Less than 4% of Canada‘s adult population has been fully vaccinated compared to more than 36% of Americans.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has promised that everyone who wants to can be fully vaccinated by September, this week spoke of a “one-dose summer” and a “two-dose fall” without explaining what that might look like.

 

(Reporting by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Delayed 2nd Pfizer/BioNTech shot boosts antibodies in elderly; COVID-19 obesity risk higher for men

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The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Delaying second Pfizer/BioNTech dose boosts antibodies in elderly

Delaying the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine beyond the originally recommended three-week gap used by the companies in clinical trials appears to induce a stronger antibody response in the elderly, UK researchers found. Shortly after the vaccine became available, UK health officials advised that the second dose should be given 12 weeks after the first to allow more people to get protected by a first dose early on. In a new paper seen by Reuters and expected to appear on medRxiv on Friday ahead of peer review, researchers found that among 175 people ages 80 to 99, those who got their second dose at 12 weeks had antibody responses that were 3.5 times higher than those who got it after three weeks. Antibodies are only one part of the immune system, and vaccines also generate T cells that fight infections. The peak T cell responses were higher in the group with a three-week interval between doses, and the authors cautioned against drawing conclusions on how protected individuals were based on which dosing schedule they received. (https://reut.rs/3wjPK9B)

Impact of obesity on COVID-19 risks may be greater in men

The known increased risk of severe COVID-19 and death linked to obesity may be even more pronounced for men than women, new data suggest. Researchers studied 3,530 hospitalized COVID-19 patients with an average age of 65, including 1,469 who were obese. In men, moderate obesity was associated with a significantly higher risk of developing severe disease, needing mechanical breathing assistance and dying from COVID-19. (The threshold for moderate obesity is a body mass index (BMI) of 35. In an 5-foot, five-inch tall (1.65 m) adult, that would correspond to a weight of 210 pounds (95 kg). In women, however, only a BMI of 40 or higher, indicating severe obesity, was linked with the increased risks. In a report published in European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, the researchers note that while obesity is known to be linked with body-wide inflammation, patients’ levels of inflammatory proteins did not appear to explain the association between obesity and severe illness. For now, they conclude, “particular attention should be paid” to protecting patients with obesity from the coronavirus, “with priority to vaccination access, remote work, telemedicine, and other measures given the higher risk of adverse outcomes once they are diagnosed with COVID-19.” (https://bit.ly/3eO6GiA)

COVID-19 testing rates low among symptomatic Americans

Sick Americans appear to be passing up opportunities to get tested for coronavirus and thus are likely unknowingly spreading the infection throughout their communities, new research shows. Among 37,000 adults across the United States who participated in a smartphone app survey between March and October 2020, nearly 2,700 reported at least one episode of fever and chills. But according to a report published in JAMA Network Open, only a small fraction reported receiving a COVID-19 test result within seven days of the onset of illness. At first, as tests became more accessible, the numbers improved. In early April 2020, less than 10% of survey participants reporting illness with fever received test results within a week. By late July, that proportion had increased to 24.1%. Throughout the summer and fall, as tests became easier to find, the number of sick participants who reported getting tested remained flat. By late October, only 26% reported receiving a test result within a week of febrile illness. “It’s shocking to me that when people have a fever they’re still not getting tested,” said coauthor Dr. Mark Pletcher of the University of California, San Francisco. “Tests are easy to come by. People might have coronavirus, might be spreading it to their friends and neighbors, and they’re not getting tested.” (https://bit.ly/2QUyMzf)

Open  in an external browser for a Reuters graphic on vaccines in development.

 

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid, Alistair Smout and Ronnie Cohen; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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