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COVID-19 in B.C.: Over 200 new cases and over 1000 active cases; Fraser Health shifts to vaccine hubs; and more – The Georgia Straight

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Today’s total and new case numbers are provisional but they are concerning.

Both new and active cases continue to rise and hit new highs in recent weeks, with the bulk of both of them still in Interior Health—which continues to have more new and active cases than both Fraser and Vancovuer Coastal Health combined.

Meanwhile, like the last heat wave, some immunization clinics may be affected by the high temperatures and at least one is already being relocated.

According to the B.C. Health Ministry, the following numbers for total and new cases are provisional due to a delayed data refresh.

For now, the B.C. Health Ministry is reporting 204 new COVID-19 cases today.

Currently, there are 1,055 active cases, which is an increase of 146 cases since yesterday.

The new and active cases include:

  • 107 new cases in Interior Health, with 600 total active cases (an increase of 97 cases since yesterday);
  • 58 new cases in Fraser Health, with 241 total active cases (33 more cases than yesterday);
  • 23 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, with 139 total active cases (three more cases than yesterday);
  • 14 new cases in Island Health, with 51 total active cases (10 more cases than yesterday);
  • two new cases in Northern Health, with 19 total active cases (three more cases than yesterday);
  • no new cases of people from outside of Canada, with five total active cases (same number as yesterday).

At the moment, 51 individuals are in hospital (four more people than yesterday), and 20 of those patients are in intensive care units (same number as yesterday).

Thankfully, no new COVID-19-related deaths have been reported, which leaves the overall total at 1,771 people who have died during the pandemic.

With 54 recoveries since yesterday, a cumulative total of 146,810 people have now recovered.

During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 149,648 cases.

The forecast heat wave may cause some clinics to be relocated again, as they were during the previous heat wave in June.

In preparation for the expected high temperatures this weekend, Island Health announced today that it will move the Eagle Ridge immunization clinic to the air-conditioned Victoria Conference Centre (720 Douglas Street, Victoria) tomorrow (July 30).

Also tomorrow, Island Health will hold a pop-up clinic from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Starlight Stadium (1089 Langford Parkway) in Langford, during the game between Victoria’s Pacific FC and Calgary’s Cavalry FC.

Meanwhile, Fraser Health announced today that it has now administered over two million vaccine doses—80 percent of eligible people in the region have received at least one dose, and over 60 percent have received their second dose.

Consequently, as of tomorrow (July 29), Fraser Health is transitioning from a network of immunization clinics to establishing four main hubs at existing clinics at:

  • Ag-Rec Centre (32470 Haida Drive) in Abbotsford (for both COVID-19 testing and immunizations);
  • Poirier Forum (618 Poirier Street) in Coqutilam;
  • Guildford Rec Centre (15105 105th Avenue) in Surrey;
  • North Delta Rec Centre (11415 84th Avenue) in Delta.

Immunization will also continue to be available at COVID-19 testing and immunization centres in Hope, Chilliwack, Mission, Langley, South Delta, South Surrey, Surrey 66, Coquitlam, and Burnaby. In addition, Fraser Health will continue to hold pop-up and mobile clinics, outreach clinics, and community initiatives (such as beachside clinics) to ensure easy access to immunizations.

The following clinics, however, will be closed on the dates listed below:

  • July 28: South Surrey Rec Centre and Chuck Bailey Rec Centre;
  • August 1: Abbotsford test collection centre at the University of the Fraser Valley will close and testing will relocate to Abbotsford Ag Rec;
  • August 7: Agassiz Agricultural Hall, Langley Events Centre, Anvil Centre, and Christine Sinclair Community Centre;
  • August 14: Chilliwack Mall, Hope Legion, Cloverdale Rec Centre, Surrey North, and Haney Place Mall;
  • August 30: Mamele’awt Community Indigenous Centre, Stó:lō Service Agency, Fraser River Indigenous Society, Mission Friendship Centre, Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre.

As part of its effort to increase vaccinations amid the recently declared outbreak in the Central Okanagan, Interior Health will hold pop-up immunization clinics from 3 to 7 p.m. from Friday (July 30) to Wednesday (August 4) at the Kelowna Yacht Club (1370 Water Street) in Kelowna, and vaccinations are available for eligible drop-in visitors.

In the ongoing provincial immunization program so far, B.C. has administered 6,732,309 doses of Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines.

As of today, 81 percent (3,753,057) of eligible people 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose and 64.1 percent (2,971,793) have received their second dose.

In addition, 81.9 percent (3,543,503) of all eligible adults in B.C. have received their first dose and 66.8 percent (2,890,948) have received their second dose.

None of the five regional health authorities declared any new healthcare or community outbreaks, or listed any new business closures or public exposure events.

Currently, there are two active healthcare outbreaks, both in longterm care facilities: Holyrood Manor (Fraser Health) and Nelson Jubilee Manor (Interior Health).

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Canadian wastewater surveillance expanding to new public health threats: Tam – CP24

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Laura Osman, The Canadian Press


Published Friday, August 12, 2022 2:53PM EDT


Last Updated Friday, August 12, 2022 4:53PM EDT

OTTAWA – Plans are underway to sift through Canadian sewage to test for and measure monkeypox, polio and other potential health threats, the country’s chief public health officer said Friday.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, wastewater detection became a key way to track the spread of the virus, especially as free lab tests for individuals were phased out for all but a few in later waves.

Dr. Theresa Tam said the experts at the National Microbiology Lab have now discovered a promising approach to detect monkeypox in wastewater and will use the infrastructure developed during the pandemic to look for it.

“Moving forwards, it could form part of our monitoring of the disease activity going up and down across the country,” Tam said at a media briefing.

Tam said the method is complicated, but they’ve landed on something that can “probably” be used more broadly. How that monitoring fits into the Public Health Agency of Canada’s surveillance efforts on monkeypox is not yet clear.

The monkeypox disease comes from the same family of viruses that cause smallpox, which the World Health Organization declared eradicated around the globe in 1980.

Cases of monkeypox began to appear around the world in non-endemic countries in May.

Just this week the number of Canadian cases surpassed 1,000, though there are early signs the virus may now be spreading at a slower rate, Tam said.

The Public Health Agency of Canada also intends to start testing for polio as “soon as possible” after U.S. health officials found the polio virus in New York City’s wastewater.

The devastating virus was eradicated from Canada in 1994 and until very recently has not been found in the United States since 1993. Cases have now freshly emerged in Western nations with traditionally high rates of vaccinated people.

A positive case was discovered in New York last month.

The presence of the polio virus in the city’s wastewater suggests the virus is likely circulated locally, health authorities from the city, New York state and the U.S. federal government said Friday.

“We’re already starting to look at what the options are,” Tam said of monitoring for polio in Canada.

Polio tests are just now coming online in Ontario, said Eric Arts, a microbiology and immunology professor at Western University.

The COVID-19 pandemic proved how useful waste can be compared to person-by-person tests, he said, especially when it comes to early detection.

“Instead of testing hundreds of thousands of people kind of randomly to determine if they’re infected with a specific pathogen, or one that we don’t even know is circulating, you can just get a wastewater sample and test 100,000 people with one test,” he said.

Wastewater surveillance can be adapted for other things as well, she said. Even before the pandemic, Tam said the public health agency was looking at ways to scan for antimicrobial resistant organisms, or superbugs as they’re often called.

Wastewater detection is still imperfect though, Tam warned.

“You’re dealing with a slurry of many things with a lot of DNA, RNA, all sorts of things,” Tam said, putting it politely.

That slurry includes countless viruses and virus mutations. Some vaccines, like the oral vaccine for polio given in some countries that includes a live, attenuated virus, can also be confused with the real thing in a wastewater sample.

“It’s not terribly easy,” she said.

Different countries use different methods, Tam said, and even within Canada there’s a lot of innovation happening.

“I think one of the roles of our lab is to then look at the best methods and try and bring some standardization and guidance to that testing,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2022.

– With files from Adina Bresge in Toronto and The Associated Press

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Foreigners flock to Canada for monkeypox vaccine – Medical Xpress

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Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

With the monkeypox vaccine in short supply in the United States, thousands of foreigners, including Americans are flocking to Montreal to get their shots.

Canada’s second-largest city, located about 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of the US border in Quebec province, has decided to make the vaccine available to all those who consider themselves to be at risk.

ackRobb Stilson, an art director from Denver, Colorado, took advantage of the opportunity during a visit to Montreal last week.

“It’s very difficult in the States to get vaccinated,” Stilson said as he lined up to get a shot at a pop-up vaccination center together with his husband and two daughters. “I’ve friends who have waited 8 or 9 hours to get in.”

Because contact tracing is difficult, authorities in Montreal decided to offer the vaccine to all those who are at risk to stem the spread of the virus.

“As tourists, they may participate in activities that may expose them and so in a way, we’re combatting the pandemic by letting them become vaccinated here so that they don’t transmit the infection either here or when they go back home,” Donald Vinh, infectious disease specialist at the McGill University Health Center, told AFP.

Since the vaccination campaign was launched in mid-May, as soon as the first cases of monkeypox were detected, Montreal has inoculated 18,500 people, 13 percent of them foreigners.

The goal is to administer 25,000 doses and vaccinate some 75-80 percent of the population deemed to be at risk, in particular men who have sex with men or with multiple partners.

“I hope the strategy used by the public health agency of Montreal is a beacon for other public health agencies to use as a vaccination strategy,” Vinh added.

In the western province of British Columbia, health authorities decided last week they will no longer offer the vaccine to foreigners citing limited supplies and the fact that it was becoming more available in the United States.

Faced with a lack of available doses, American health authorities on Tuesday authorized a new injection procedure which will make it possible to inoculate five times the number of people with the same amount of the drug.

As of August 11, Canada has registered 1,059 confirmed cases of monkeypox, but authorities see signs of infections beginning to slow.


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Elevated risk of Monkeypox in Saskatchewan: SHA – CTV News Regina

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The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has alerted the public to the elevated risk of acquiring Monkeypox through anonymous sexual contact.

“So far we’ve had three cases, who were exposed out of the province,” said Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab.

“We think the situation has changed now, in the last week. Where we have had evidence of exposures happening in Saskatchewan, in many cases happening through anonymous sexual contacts with people who have been coming into the province.”

Shahab noted that the exposures were happening almost exclusively to those in the gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (gbMSM) community.

“We think now that there is a higher risk that we may see ongoing transmission within Saskatchewan … particularly in this community.”

Shahab noted that these trends were similar to what is being seen across Canada. He urged those in Saskatchewan at risk not to hesitate and reach out.

“If you belong to the gbMSM community it’s really important that at the first sign of illness you do contact the Healthline (811) for advice and seek testing and isolate till the diagnosis is made.”

INCREASED ELIGIBILITY FOR VACCINES

The SHA announced that Monkeypox vaccine requirements would be expanded to both post and pre exposure, following the alert.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside 99,000 doses of the vaccine, with 50,000 doses being given to provinces so far, according to Shahab.

Those eligible for vaccinations include select high-risk contacts 18 years and older who are identified ideally within 4 days and up to 14 days after an exposure. Those who are at a high risk of exposure are also eligible. The SHA’s criteria includes:

  • Are transgender or self-identify as two spirit, bisexual, gay or men who have sex with men (MSM)

And one or more of the following:

  • Have had a recent sexually transmitted infection (in the past six months);
  • Report having had two or more sexual partners in the past six months;
  • Had (in the past six months) or plan to have sexual contact involving an exchange of money or other goods for sexual services;
  • Report having had (in the past six months) or planning to have sexual contact at an event or social gathering where there is MSM-themed sexual activity (sauna, bath house, club);
  • Have had (in the past six months) or plan to have sexual contact with an anonymous partner (at an event or via a hook-up app);
  • Planning to travel in the next three months to an area in Canada or internationally currently reporting monkeypox cases;

OR

  • Individuals 18 years and older who work or volunteer at an event or social gathering where there is MSM themed sexual activity (sauna, bath house, club).

The SHA has outlined how to properly isolate and protect others while contagious with Monkeypox on its website.

Monkeypox is a rare viral illness that causes fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes and lethargy, followed by the development of a rash over a person’s body. The disease is not easily spread from person to person according to the SHA. Monkeypox is spread through:

  • Close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact.
  • Touching bodily fluids or lesions of a person who is sick with the disease.
  • Exposure to contaminated objects such as bed linens or clothing.

There are currently around 30,000 Monkeypox cases globally, with approximately 1,000 of those occurring in Canada.

Saskatchewan’s current criteria for vaccination and its overall approach has been informed by other provincial responses such as in Ontario and Quebec, according to Shahab.

“We really hope that by this approach in Saskatchewan we can try to avert a quick or high surge of cases and also prevent further transmission.”

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