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COVID-19 in B.C.: New case counts remain above 850; Phase 3 vaccinations begins; 16 flight exposures; and more –



New case counts may be slightly lower than the weekend but they’re still extremely high, hovering not far from the 1,000 mark.

Meanwhile, B.C.’s immunization program is advancing to Phase 3 ahead of schedule tomorrow, with a new online booking system available (more details below).

Controversy arose when two Vancouver restaurants announced that they would defy provincial health orders to close all indoor dining.

In response, Vancouver Coastal Health ordered one of the establishments, Gusto in the Olympic Village, to shut down.

The president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association issued a statement to condemn the actions of these restaurant owners.

Today, the City of Vancouver temporarily suspended the business licenses for both restaurants, which includes Kitsilano’s Corduroy.

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced, in a joint statement, that there were 1,889 new cases over the past two days.

From April 3 to 4, there were 999 new cases, followed by an additional 890 cases from April 4 to 5.

By region, that includes:

  • 986 new cases in Fraser Health;
  • 579 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
  • 129 in Interior Health;
  • 100 in Island Health;
  • 95 in Northern Health;
  • no one from outside of Canada.

In addition, Henry and Dix stated that the previous case counts provided on April 3 (1,018 from April 1 to 2, and 1,072 cases from April 2 and 3) and have since been adjusted to 1,074 cases from April 1 to 2 and 1,077 cases from April 2 to 3 (setting a record high for new cases in one day), for a total of 2,149 cases from April 1 to 3.

The cumulative total for the Easter long weekend was a total of 4,040 new cases over the past four time periods.

Currently, there are 8,490 active cases, which is an increase of 919 cases since April 1 (the last date that active case numbers were provided).

At the moment, there are 318 individuals hospitalized (22 more people since April 1), and 96 of those patients are in intensive care units (17 more patients since April 1).

Public health is monitoring 11,989 people for exposures to identified cases (381 more people since April 1).

Tragically, there were 23 COVID-19-related deaths over the past four time periods. That brings the total fatalities during the pandemic to 1,486 people who have died in B.C.

A cumulative total of 94,806 people (91 percent) have now recovered.

B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 104,061 cases during the pandemic.

Since April 1, there have been 916 new variant cases, which brings the cumulative total to 3,559 cases. Of these, 588 cases are currently active.

The total includes:

  • 2,771 cases of the B117 (U.K.) variant;
  • 737 cases of the P1 (Brazil) variant;
  • 51 cases of the B1351 (South Africa) variant.

As of today, 893,590 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca-SII vaccines have been administered in B.C., and 87,472 of those are second doses.

Once again, B.C. is ahead of its vaccination schedule.

The province is now advancing to Phase 3 of its immunization plan.

People who were born in 1950 and earlier (71 years old and above) can begin booking vaccine appointments (in addition to Indigenous people who are 18 years and above, as well as those who are clinically vulnerable), starting at 8 a.m. tomorrow (April 6).

Appointments can now be booked in three ways:

  • a new online booking system;
  • by calling a provincial call centre (toll-free) at 1-833-838-2323;
  • in-person at the nearest Service BC location.
B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix
Province of British Columbia

Northern Health declared an outbreak in the West Pod at Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert, where two residents have tested positive.

The good news is that there aren’t any new community outbreaks, and none of the five regional health authorities added any new public exposure events.

Sobeys added one store to its list of locations with staff who have tested positive.

At the FreshCo located at 7450 120th Street in Surrey, an employee who tested positive last worked there on April 1.

Loblaw added four locations of Real Canadian Superstore to its list of locations with staff members who tested positive, including:

  • one employee who last worked on March 22 at 7550 King George Boulevard in Surrey;
  • two employees who last worked on March 22 and 31 at 14650 104th Avenue in Surrey;
  • three employees who last worked on March 25 and 27 at 333 Seymour Boulevard in North Vancouver;
  • one employee who last worked on March 27 at 9800 Lougheed Highway in Pitt Meadows.

McDonald’s has listed five new locations with staff members who tested positive, including:

  • an employee who last worked on March 31 at 12930 96th Avenue in Surrey;
  • one employee who last worked on April 2 at 2330 Ottawa Street in Port Coquitlam;
  • one employee who last worked on April 2 at 101–1940 Oxford Connector in Port Coquitlam;
  • an employee who last worked on April 2 at 3310 15th Avenue in Prince George;
  • two employees who last worked on April 2 at 32983 South Fraser Way in Abbotsford.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) added the following 16 domestic and international flights to its lists of public exposures:

  • March 23: Air Canada/Jazz 8550, Vancouver to Regina;
  • March 25: Philippine Airlines 116, Manila to Vancouver;
  • March 26: Air Canada 123, Toronto to Vancouver;
  • March 26: Air Canada 124, Vancouver to Toronto;
  • March 28: Air Canada 115, Toronto to Vancouver;
  • March 28: Air Canada 8211, Vancouver to Prince George;
  • March 29: WestJet 706, Vancouver to Toronto;
  • March 29: WestJet 139, Calgary to Vancouver;
  • March 31: Air Canada/Jazz 2279, Terrace to Vancouver;
  • March 31: Air India 185, Delhi to Vancouver;
  • March 31: Air Canada 115, Toronto to Vancouver;
  • April 1: Air Canada 234, Vancouver to Edmonton;
  • April 1: WestJet 3290, Prince George to Vancouver;
  • April 1: Air Canada 103, Toronto to Vancouver;
  • April 1: Air Canada 8413, Kelowna to Vancouver;
  • April 2: WestJet 706, Vancouver to Toronto.

Affected row information is available at the BCCDC website.


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As COVID-19 vaccines for kids get closer, experts weigh up how to reassure parents –



Read Story Transcript

As Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech say they’ve moved a step closer to providing their COVID-19 vaccine for younger children, one mother says she’s keen to have her eldest vaccinated, but hears some hesitation among other parents.

“As parents, you’re nervous and you’re apprehensive, obviously, about any risks,” said Fallon Jones, who lives in Halifax with a five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son.

“But we have to weigh the pros and the cons here, and I think that this is a good opportunity to protect them against a potentially deadly virus,” she told The Current’s Matt Galloway.

Pfizer-BioNTech said Monday that a clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine recorded a robust immune response in five- to 11-year-olds, and the company plans to seek regulatory approval as soon as possible. Children received two shots, each one-third the dose size given to adults. The findings have not been peer-reviewed, nor published.

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine appears safe, effective in younger kids, expert says

3 days ago

Although he cautions Pfizer-BioNTech has yet to release the raw data supporting the claim that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in kids aged 5-11, it’s ‘reasonable’ to assume that’s accurate, says Dr. Christopher Labos, a cardiologist with a degree in epidemiology. 2:35

For any vaccine to be approved by Health Canada, the manufacturers supply the necessary clinical trial data for review. If the regulator grants approval, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) will make a recommendation on their use, but the final decision to deploy the vaccines rests with provincial authorities.

In a statement to The Current, Health Canada said the makers of all COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada are conducting or planning studies in adolescents and younger children, but it has so far not received any submission for the approval of any COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12.

In her work at a vaccine hesitancy clinic in Calgary, Dr. Cora Constantinescu meets parents who are experiencing “a lot of fear and anxiety” around their children potentially getting the vaccine.

“We often have parents who are fully vaccinated themselves, who may be hesitant about their kids,” said Constantinescu, a pediatrician and infectious disease doctor at Alberta Children’s Hospital.

She said that parents talk to her about things they’ve seen online, including “anti-vaccine rhetoric and a lot of misconstrued science.”

In Halifax, Jones said she often hears other parents say they don’t know what’s in the vaccine, so they won’t give it to their kids. When she asks if they knew what was in the vaccines their kids received as babies, the response is usually no, she said.

“I completely respect and understand how there would be some fear associated with it,” she said. 

But ultimately, “we trusted our doctors then and we trusted the science then, and we need to do the same with this vaccine.” 

Dr. Cora Constantinescu said that as parents approach the decision, they should consider the negative impacts of COVID-19 on children. (Submitted by Dr. Cora Constantinescu)

How should parents approach vaccine question?

Constantinescu said many parents have seen misinformation on social media, where there is a “huge polarization of the pro-vaccine and the anti-vaccine crowd.”

“The parents are caught in the middle, scared and worried about their kids, trying to make the best decision they can,” she said.

As parents approach the decision, they should consider the dual impact of COVID-19 on children, she said.

“We’re seeing the direct effects of COVID on children, and we know that that can range from mild disease, to respiratory illness, to being hospitalized, having a multi-system inflammation, to ending up in ICU,” she said.

There is also an indirect cost, including mental health issues and issues around socialization, she said.

How a doctor discusses vaccine hesitancy with patients

10 months ago

Dr. Cora Constantinescu, an infectious disease specialist from the Vaccine Hesitancy Clinic in Calgary, discusses how she approaches conversations around vaccine hesitancy, the impact of those conversations and what’s needed in messaging around the COVID-19 vaccine. 3:44

The news from Pfizer-BioNTech gives her hope that those impacts can soon be addressed, but she warned that the data has not yet been made public, or reviewed by Health Canada.

If it is approved, she said parents should approach the vaccine as an issue of “personal protection first.”

“It’s about protecting their kids directly, looking out for them, and wanting to return them to a normal life,” she said.

‘Pull out all the stops’ to protect kids

Dr. Kashif Pirzada, an emergency physician in Toronto, wants to see a safe vaccine for kids approved and available as quickly as possible.

“I’m calling for all of these processes to be speeded up and done very transparently,” said Pirzada, who is also a co-founder of Masks4Canada, a group that advocates for public health measures to slow the spread of the virus.

Dr. Kashif Pirzada said that when a vaccine is approved for younger children, ‘we should pull out all the stops and get these shots into little arms as quickly as possible.’ (Dr. Kashif Pirzada)

He added that more work should be done to reassure parents that the vaccines are safe. He warned that COVID-19 is not harmless to children, and the longer they remain unprotected, the more infections there will be.

In the meantime, vaccination sites and health-care workers could be prepared to ramp the vaccination campaign back up, he said.

“Once that approval comes, we should pull out all the stops and get these shots into little arms as quickly as possible.”

Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Rachel Levy-McLaughlin, Arianne Robinson and Joana Draghici.

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Gold price drops as Powell talks 'gradual' tapering, downplays Evergrande contagion concerns – Kitco NEWS



(Kitco News) The gold market saw its earlier gains reversed as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell talked about “gradual” tapering while downplaying China’s Evergrande contagion effect on the U.S. market.

On Wednesday, the Fed said it may soon start tapering its $120 billion in monthly asset purchases, with central bank officials showing growing support for raising interest rates in 2022. 

“If progress continues broadly as expected, the Committee judges that a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted. These asset purchases help foster smooth market functioning and accommodative financial conditions, thereby supporting the flow of credit to households and businesses,” the Fed said in a statement.

When clarifying the Fed’s stance at a press conference following the Fed statement, Powell indicated that it would be a “very gradual taper,” which could conclude in the middle of next year.

Powell also pointed out that the central bank has the freedom to speed up or slow down the tapering process as it sees fit. He added that markets should not expect a rate hike while the Fed is still tapering.

Tapering does depend on substantial further progress made by the U.S. economy. And if the economy continues to advance in line with expectations, the Fed could move ahead with tapering at the next meeting.

“For me, it wouldn’t take a knockout [August] employment report. It would take a reasonably good employment report for me to feel like that test is met,” Powell said. “I would say that in my own thinking, the test is all but met. I don’t personally need to see a very strong employment report. Again it’s not to be confused with the test for [rate] liftoff, which is so much higher.”

The Fed Chair was also asked about China’s Evergrande debt issue, which sparked a rout in the markets earlier this week.

“The Evergrande situation seems very particular to China, which has very high debt for an emerging economy,” Powell told reporters. “Corporate defaults in the U.S. are very low right now … You would worry that it would affect global financial conditions through confidence channels.”

When asked about the stock-trading policies for Fed officials, Powell replied that they are “not adequate” and the Fed “could do better.”

Powell noted that it is reasonable for Fed officials not to own the same assets as Fed buys. “We are going to be looking at all those things,” he said.

On the debt ceiling issue, Powell also urged Congress to raise the debt limit in a timely fashion. “It is critically important. Failure to do that is something that could result in severe damage to the economy and financial markets.”

He added that no one should assume Fed can protect the economy if the debt ceiling is not raised.

In response to Powell’s comments, gold saw some losses as markets interpreted Powell’s comments as upbeat when it came to the U.S. economy. At the time of writing, December Comex gold futures were trading at $1,767.20, down 0.62% on the day.

Live 24 hours gold chart [Kitco Inc.]

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China asks local governments to prep for Evergrande downfall: Report – CNBC Television



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