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COVID-19 in B.C.: Over 60 new cases, 12 flights with confirmed cases, testing centres expand, and more – Straight.com

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Although today’s new case count is lower than yesterday’s (83 cases), the number of active cases continues to grow to new heights for a third consecutive day.

In addition, 12 new flights and some Metro Vancouver shopping malls have had confirmed cases.

Meanwhile, assessment and testing centres in the Lower Mainland are expanding and new locations are being established, as demand increases.

B.C. deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson and Health Minister Adrian Dix issued a news release for today’s update.

Today, B.C. has had 68 new cases. Currently, there are 798 active cases, with 2,452 people being monitored by public health due to exposure to confirmed cases. That’s an increase of 126 cases from yesterday’s amount of 2,326 people.

After several weeks of low numbers of hospitalized cases, the number of cases in hospital has jumped from four to 10 patients, with four of those individuals in intensive care units.

The cumulative provincial total during the pandemic is now at 4,745 cases. That total includes 488 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health; 2,493 in Fraser Health; 158 in Island Health; 411 in Interior Health; 120 in Northern Health; and 75 cases of people who live outside Canada.

There aren’t any new healthcare outbreaks and the outbreak at the Richmond Lions Manor has been declared over. There remain active outbreaks at eight longterm care facilities and one acute-care facility. In addition, there aren’t any new community outbreaks.

Some welcome news is that there aren’t any new deaths. The total fatalities remains at 198 people who have died.

A total of 3,749 people are now considered recovered.

B.C. deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson
B.C. Centre for Disease Control

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has added 12 flights—one of the largest numbers in recent months—to its list of potential sites of public COVID-19 exposures.

The flights include:

  • August 2: Air Canada flight 210 from Vancouver to Calgary
  • August 3: Air Canada flight 561, from San Francisco to Vancouver
  • August 3: KLM flight 682, from Vancouver to Amsterdam
  • August 5: Air Canada flight 296, from Vancouver to Winnipeg
  • August 5: Lufthansa flight 492, from Frankfurt to Vancouver
  • August 6: Flair flight 8101, from Vancouver to Toronto
  • August 7: Air Canada flight 128, from Vancouver to Toronto
  • August 8: Air Canada flight 128, from Vancouver to Toronto
  • August 9: Air Canada flight 8328, from Vancouver to Winnipeg
  • August 10: WestJet flight 720, from Vancouver to Toronto
  • August 10: Air Canada flight 116, from Vancouver to Toronto
  • August 11: WestJet flight 720, from Vancouver to Toronto
  • August 11: Air Canada flight 116, from Vancouver to Toronto

For affected rows, please visit the BCCDC COVID-19 public exposures webpage.

Elsewhere in the city, two shopping centres reported confirmed cases but didn’t provide specific details.

CTV News reported today that an employee at Guildford Town Centre shopping centre in Surrey has tested positive. The mall stated on Twitter that it isn’t providing specific details, such as which store the employee was from, “out of a concern for privacy”, but said that the individual was last at the premises on August 11.

Burnaby Now reported on August 18 that the Stay Fresh footwear store at Metropolis at Metrotown shopping centre in Burnaby has temporarily closed due to COVID-19 protocols. Stay Fresh stated that a staff member tested positive and was last at the location on August 10.

The company also stated that all staff members are undergoing testing and isolation.

Previously, a memo had been reported to have been issued to tenants at the shopping centre on August 7 after a staff member at the mall had been confirmed to be positive. However, the centre stated on social media that it cannot disclose any specific details, including which store or venue the individual worked at or any dates, “out of a concern for privacy”.

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

Both Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and Fraser Health, which cover the hardest hit regions in the province, announced new or expansions of assessment and testing centres today due to increased demand.

VCH has opened a new assessment and testing site in the north parking lot of Vancouver Community College (East 7th Avenue, between Keith and Glen Drive), which operates from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. every day for walk-ins and drive-throughs.

While VCH will also open a new centre in North Vancouver in the next few weeks, it will also increase operating hours at Richmond and other centres.

Fraser Health, which has 10 assessment and testing centres (in Burnaby, Surrey, Delta, White Rock, Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Langley, Mission, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack), is expanding operating hours at three centres. The Burnaby assessment and testing centre will have extended hours (noon to 8:30 p.m. every day all week). Meanwhile the Delta centre will have new, extended hours of 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. The Chilliwack centre will have one additional operating day: Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.

At the Langley and Burnaby centres, greeters will help to manage lineups and ensure only people with symptoms are present for assessment or testing.

A testing-only lane is being introduced at the Surrey-Whalley Urgent and Primary Care Centre (for those directed by medical practitioners to receive testing without an assessment), and traffic control will be used at the Langley centre.

More additions to be introduced over the next few weeks will include:

  • two more drive-through lanes at the Burnaby centre;
  • more staff at the Langley centre, and new, extended hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. all week;
  • new, extended hours at the Abbotsford centre from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. all week;
  • new, temporary high-volume centres in Surrey and the Fraser Northwest area;
  • online and phone pre-booking and pre-registration for assessment and testing to be centralized.

Gustafson and Dix stated that B.C. is currently capable of completing approximately 8,000 tests every day.

Video of How COVID-19 tests are processed in BC laboratories

The City of Vancouver is seeking input and feedback about the temporary road changes that were made during the lockdown period of the pandemic.

Among the changes were the approval of 360 temporary patios at eateries, the creation of pop-up plazas and parklets, using traffic calming measures to create “slow streets” to allow for more pedestrians and cyclists, expanding lineup spaces at bus stops, providing street space on Beach Avenue for pedestrians and cyclists, and making more room on narrow sidewalks.

Anyone interested in providing thoughts about these changes, which will be considered for future decision-making and whether these measures should be modified or maintained, can do so online until September 6.

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More flu vaccine being ordered by Ministry of Health – 620 CKRM.com

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With flu season right around the corner, the Ministry of Health is purchasing more over a third more  vaccine than last year to meet what is expected to be an increase in demand.
In a release from the Saskatchewan government Tuesday morning, Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says it is always a good idea to receive the influenza vaccination but it is particularly important during the pandemic as receiving the vaccine will help prevent the spread of influenza.”
Another enhancement to the seasonal influenza immunization program is the addition of no cost access to the high dose vaccine for personal care home residents 65 years of age or older.  Long-term care residents in the same age bracket will receive the high dose vaccine at no cost again for the third year.
Flu shots are recommended for those at higher risk, including seniors, people with underlying chronic health conditions, children under five and pregnant women.  Seniors often have chronic health conditions (like heart or lung disease or diabetes) and weaker immune systems, which makes them particularly vulnerable to complications from influenza.
There will be modifications to where and how flu shots will be administered this year.  To accommodate public health precautions due to COVID-19, there will be increased physical distancing and sanitization procedures.  Details will be available when the fall immunization program gets underway in mid-October.

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Renfrew County and District Health Unit declares second wave of COVID-19 – OttawaMatters.com

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Renfrew County and District Health Unit’s acting Medical Officer of Heath, Dr. Robert Cushman, has declared the region has entered its second wave of COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Cushman says it is clear they are in the midst of the second wave, citing “COVID fatigue” as the main factor.

He also encourages residents to remain vigilant and continue to wear masks, physically distance, washing hands, and maintaining a social bubble to avoid returning to lockdown.

 

In the meantime, no additional students, staff or close contacts from Fellowes High School tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday or Monday.

This comes as Renfrew County saw 45 cases of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, including one death.

 

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More than 1,850 Calgary students and staff self-isolate due to COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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Hundreds of students and staff at Calgary schools are currently self-isolating due to potential exposure to COVID-19. 

Schools reopened in-person classes just a few weeks ago. As of Monday, there were 126 confirmed cases at 81 schools across Alberta.

Of those schools with positive cases, 19 are classified as outbreaks, which means there have been two or more positive cases at the school.

Once a case is confirmed, the current protocol is to have an entire classroom self-isolate for the mandated 14 days. 

I recognize that having an entire class isolated has a significant impact on parents and families, and I understand that there’s frustration on the lack of ability to plan.– Dr. Deena Hinshaw

Alberta Health is not currently tracking the total number of students and staff affected, but Calgary’s two school districts were able to share how many in each community have been ordered to quarantine.

As of Monday afternoon, 1,400 students and more than 90 staff with the Calgary Board of Education were self-isolating. 

The Calgary Catholic School District could only provide numbers accurate to Thursday, when 356 students and 22 staff were self-isolating. 

Those numbers do not include students home with symptoms like a cough, or runny nose.

Across Alberta, about 742,000 students are enrolled at more than 2,400 schools. In Edmonton, at least 1,000 students and staff were in isolation as of Friday.

Thousands of parents across the province are also faced with potentially needing to stay home from work, find child care or educate children at home with little warning, after a positive case in the classroom. 

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said on Monday that she has heard concerns from parents about the impact of their children suddenly needing to isolate for two weeks. 

“I recognize that having an entire class isolated has a significant impact on parents and families, and I understand that there’s frustration on the lack of ability to plan,” she said.

“Right now we are taking a very cautious approach, so when there is a single infectious case in a classroom, that entire class is asked to stay home for that 14-day period, and we are watching very closely our experiences with those class cohorts to understand how we can be more targeted so we don’t have to have the whole class stay home in future.”

Even if students test negative for COVID-19 after a classmate tests positive, they can’t return to class until the 14-day period is over as it could take time for the illness to manifest.

What’s really critical for schools is that schools don’t become a place where transmission happens.– Dr. Deena Hinshaw

Hinshaw said there are important health benefits to children from being in school, and said the numbers of school-aged students who have tested positive overall is more of an indicator of community case counts than in-school transmission.

To date, three schools have recorded cases of in-school transmission of the coronavirus.

Hinshaw said the number of weekly cases in school-aged children hit its peak when the province hit its highest case-count in mid-April, when 216 children aged five to 19 had COVID-19. At that point schools had already been closed for weeks. 

Since schools reopened, numbers in that age group increased to 183 in the week of Sept. 9 to 15, and decreased this past week to 122.

“What’s really critical for schools is that schools don’t become a place where transmission happens,” she said. 

She also said the province is working to increase testing speeds for students who are self-isolating due to displaying symptoms of COVID-19, so they can quickly get back to class.

“We recognize that getting test results as quickly as possible, and getting tested as quickly as possible, both of those are really important.”

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