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COVID-19 in B.C.: Over 800 new cases; new Burnaby immunization centre; restaurant exposure event; and more – The Georgia Straight



Although B.C. didn’t set a new record high like yesterday, the new case count remained above 800.

Active cases and monitored people also continued to increase in numbers but hospitalized cases decreased slightly.

With a long weekend upon us, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said now is not the time for travel, which she said is high risk. In addition, she emphasized that it remains important for everyone to remain within their social bubbles and to practice health measures.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix emphasized that now is not about mistakes that people have made; what people didn’t do, failed to do, or should have done; or “who lead the spread”. Rather, he said it’s about what we can do, must do, and will do, and that everyone has to “unite in the fight to stop the spread”.

While many examples have arisen of people resisting health measures in public with displays of anger, physical violence, and more, a male cyclist was reported to have attempted to assault an antimasker, who was in a vehicle.

Parksville Qualicum Beach News reported that the incident took place on March 27 during an anti-mask rally on Main Street.

A video captures a man picking up and swinging his bicycle several times at a vehicle with an antimasker passenger, who was using a megaphone to tell people that they are part of a “psychological experiment”. After the cyclist smashes the vehicle window, he leaves. 

Officers arrested the 52-year-old man with the bicycle and are recommending charges of mischief and assault with a weapon.

Henry announced that there are 832 new cases in B.C. today.

That includes, by region:

  • 388 new cases in Fraser Health (47 percent);
  • 310 in Vancouver Coastal Health (37 percent);
  • 53 in Island Health (six percent);
  • 42 in Interior Health (five percent);
  • 39 in Northern Health (five percent);
  • no one from outside of Canada.

Currently, there are 7,571 active cases, which is an increase of 166 more cases since yesterday.

Hospitalized cases dropped by five cases, to a current total of 296 people in hospitals today. That includes 79 patients in intensive care units (one less person since yesterday).

Public health is monitoring 11,608 people (due to exposures to confirmed cases)—an increase of 140 people. 

Unfortunately, Henry announced there have been five new COVID-19-related deaths over the past day. Dix said that includes three people in Northern Health, one person in Fraser Health, and one person in Vancouver Coastal Health.

That brings the cumulative total to 1,463 people who have died during the pandemic.

A total of 91,732 people have now recovered, which includes 91,732 recoveries since yesterday.

During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 100,880 cases. By region, that includes: 

  • 58,158 cases in Fraser Health (58 percent);
  • 24,540 in Vancouver Coastal Health (24 percent);
  • 8,587 in Interior Health (nine percent);
  • 6,043 in Northern Health (six percent);
  • 3,377 in Island Health (three percent);
  • 175 people from outside of Canada (less than one percent).

Henry announced that there are 90 new confirmed variant cases over the past two days (there was a data delay yesterday), which raises the total to 2,643 cases.

Out of these total cases, 192 are currently active and Henry said there are 35 people with variants in hospitals.

The total includes:

  • 2,214 cases of the B117 (U.K.) variant (80 new cases);
  • 379 cases of the P1 (Brazil) variant (nine new cases);
  • 50 cases of the B1351 (South Africa) variant (one more case).

Henry said that most of the P1 variant, which is one of the variants that Henry said they are concerned about, are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

So far, 787,549 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca-SII vaccines have been administered in B.C., and 87,394 of those are second doses.

Fraser Health announced today that it will open a new, larger drive-through testing and immunization centre at the British Columbia Institute of Technology campus in Burnaby. This new centre will replace the existing COVID-19 Testing and Immunization Centre located at 6110 Boundary Road.

This new centre will opening on April 19, and can expand from six to 10 lanes to increase capacity for testing and immunization.

Once again, the good news is that there aren’t new healthcare or community outbreaks.

In an update on the outbreak at Vernon Jubilee Hospital announced yesterday, Interior Health stated today that two staff members have now tested positive, in addition to the three patients that had previously tested positive.

Vancouver Coastal Health has lifted restrictions at UBC Hospital’s Koerner Pavilion that were placed on March 11.

Fraser Health listed a public exposure event at Browns Socialhouse Panorama (15260 56th Avenue) during the following times:

  • 5 to 11 p.m. on March 23 and 24;
  • 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 25 and 26;
  • 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on March 27.

Loblaw added four stores to its list of locations with staff members who have tested positive.

Two stores were Real Canadian Superstore locations:

  • two employees who last worked on March 19 and 27 at the 2155 Ferry Avenue store in Prince George;
  • two employees who last worked on March 27 at 32136 Lougheed Highway store in Mission.

Three staff members who tested positive last worked on March 22, 26, and 28 at Sewak’s Your Independent Grocer (8200 Bear Paw Trail) in Whistler.

At Shoppers Drug Mart (590 Highway 33 West) in Kelowna, an employee who tested positive last worked there on March 29.


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Exclusive-Canada’s Ontario to expand use of AstraZeneca COVID vaccine as epidemic rages



By Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian province of Ontario will begin offering AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday to people turning 40 or older this year, according to a government source.

The change will broaden access to vaccines as a third wave of infections threatens to overwhelm hospitals in Canada‘s most-populous province, and should make it easier to use doses that in some cases have been accumulating at pharmacies.

The change will be announced on Monday and go into effect across the province on Tuesday, according to the source. The vaccine has already been distributed to pharmacies but currently can only be given to people turning 55 or older this year.

Ontario announced new public health measures on Friday, promising checkpoints at provincial borders, new police powers and closing outdoor amenities, while leaving many workplaces open. The measures were widely criticized by doctors and public health experts, and the province quickly reopened playgrounds and modified the new police powers.

On March 29, Health Canada said it would review reports of serious blood clots and bleeding in a small number of people who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine in other countries, and an independent panel called the National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI) recommended that it only be given to people 55 and older. All provinces followed that advice.

But NACI’s recommendations are not binding. Last week, Health Canada, the country’s drug regulator, said it had reviewed all available evidence and would not restrict the use of the vaccine, because its benefits outweigh its potential risks. Health Canada said at the time that NACI was reviewing its recommendations.

On Sunday, NACI’s chair told Reuters that the panel would make a new recommendation on Tuesday.

Health Canada said regulators in the UK had estimated the risk of clots to be very small, roughly four in a million people who receive the vaccine. It also said the complication was treatable. Two people have developed it in Canada, and both are recovering.

Several other countries have limited the use of the vaccine to older people. Denmark has withdrawn the shot, and Norway said on Thursday it would take more time to decide whether to resume use.

Ontario reported 4,250 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The Ontario Hospital Association said 59 patients were admitted to intensive care on Saturday, bringing the number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs to 737.

Health Canada says those who receive the vaccine should seek medical attention immediately if they experience shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent belly pain, neurological symptoms like severe headaches or blurred vision, or skin bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of the injection.


(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Diane Craft and Peter Cooney)

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Trudeau mobilizes federal workers to battle COVID-19 in Toronto and rest of Ontario




OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday he would send federal healthcare workers to help Toronto and the province of Ontario battle a third wave of COVID-19 infections that has forced shutdowns of schools and businesses.

“We are mobilizing federal healthcare workers from across government departments to deploy on the front lines in Ontario and specifically the Greater Toronto area where the situation is most critical,” Trudeau said in a video posted on Twitter.

Other provinces, especially on the Atlantic coast, are working “to determine what human resources and equipment they could free up over the coming days,” Trudeau said, adding that the federal government would cover the costs of that help.

The government will also seek to boost rapid testing, especially for essential workers, Trudeau said.

The government of Ontario, Canada‘s most-populous province and industrial powerhouse, has moved schools online and announced more stringent public health measures on Friday, including shutting the provincial borders to non-essential travel.

On Saturday, federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair deployed two mobile health units to set up more hospital beds in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, and the prime minister said he stood ready to send the Red Cross to staff mobile vaccination clinics in Ontario if help is requested.

Canada‘s seven-day average of new infections was 8,669, the chief medical officer said on Sunday, a 26% increase compared with the previous seven days. Ontario reported 4,250 new cases on Sunday.

Canada has been ramping up its vaccination campaign but still has a smaller percentage of its population inoculated than dozens of other countries, including the United States and Britain.

More than 48 million doses are to be delivered by the end of June, which is enough for all of Canada‘s population of some 38 million to receive at least one shot, with a total of 100 million doses expected by the end of September.


(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Canada has second case of rare blood clots after AstraZeneca vaccin



(Reuters) – Canada on Saturday reported a second case of rare blood clots with low platelets after immunization with AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine in a week, while it said it still recommended the use of the shot.

The person who experienced the very rare event has been treated and is recovering, Canada‘s health ministry said in a statement, adding that the person lives in the province of Alberta.

Based on the evidence available, Canada still maintains that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the potential risks, the statement said.

Canada health authorities “will continue to monitor the use of all COVID-19 vaccines closely and examine and assess any new safety concerns,” the statement said.

Canada reported a first blood clotting associated with the vaccine on Tuesday, and a day later, after a review, health authorities said they would not restrict use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A separate advisory council had earlier recommended Canada stop offering the vaccine to people under 55. That panel is in the process of reviewing its advice.

Canada has been ramping up its vaccination campaign, but still has a smaller percentage of its population inoculated than dozens of other countries, including the United States and Britain.

Amid a spiking third wave of infections, Ontario, Canada‘s most populous province, announced new public health restrictions on Friday, including closing the provinces borders to domestic travelers.


(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Steve Scherer in Ottawa, writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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