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COVID-19 update for Dec. 5-6: 711 cases, 11 deaths, Canucks cut ties with controversial singer – Vancouver Sun

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It’s the same story in Point Grey, as Hewer Home Hardware owner Bernard Lau can attest.

“People, they’re at home, so they’re going to decorate, make their house look nice,” he said. “My wife, she’s so hyped for me putting up lights. I went home last night and I’ve got all these lights and I’m putting them up and she’s like, ‘Oh, this is so fun.’ ”

As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into its ninth month, people are looking for ways to cheer themselves up. Starting seasonal celebrations is a popular choice.

Many respondents to a query from Postmedia said they would be installing “twice as many lights” this year.

“I love Christmas, and with all the cancelations this year we’ve gone all out — new tree, new lights,” said Surrey resident Mary Sheridan. “Plus, I lost my job because of the pandemic. I need all the cheering up I can get.”

12 a.m. – 711 cases and 11 more deaths

B.C. health officials confirmed 711 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and 11 new deaths.

Total province-wide cases rose to 36,132, with active cases falling slightly to 9,050.



LOCAL RESOURCES for COVID-19 information

Here are a number of information and landing pages for COVID-19 from various health and government agencies.

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool

Vancouver Coastal Health – Information on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

HealthLink B.C. – Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page

B.C. Centre for Disease Control – Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update

World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

–with files from The Canadian Press

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British Columbia announces plan for mass vaccination campaign starting in April – The Globe and Mail

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Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix look on as Premier John Horgan talks about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Jan. 22, 2021.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

Starting in February, British Columbia’s oldest residents will be asked to pre-register to get their COVID-19 vaccination, securing a place in line for when their age group is called.

The B.C. government offered the details of its distribution plan on Friday, as it wraps up the first phase of priority vaccinations for those in long-term care facilities. Rebuffing demands from various industries and professions, it has instead established a rollout based mostly on a resident’s date of birth.

“The science is very clear. The single biggest factor for death or severe illness, is age,” Premier John Horgan told a news conference on Friday. He said he has been lobbied hard by different interest groups that wanted priority vaccines, but said the plan is driven by the statistics on risk. An individual older than 60 is five times as likely to get seriously ill or die from COVID-19 than someone younger than 45, he noted. “No matter where you work, no matter what you do, your age is the predominant factor. And that’s been the focus of the development of this plan.”

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Even with mass vaccinations around the province starting in April, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said relief from pandemic restrictions such as mask requirements, travel limits and bans on social gatherings are many months away.

“I would love to be able to say July 1st, but I think there are a whole lot of unknowns,” she said. She suggested that non-essential travel within B.C. will likely be permitted by the summer, but not large gatherings. She cautioned that the new variants of COVID-19, or additional shortages of promised vaccines, could change that.

“By the summer, we should be able to have some types of our normal lives back again,” she said. “But the full, back to what we would like to have, in terms of social interactions and being together, is not likely until the fall.”

The province, dealing with uncertainty around vaccine supply, is focused on reaching select high-risk populations, such as people who are homeless, acute-care health workers, elderly residents at home and family doctors. Roughly 520,000 people are expected to be vaccinated in this early stage of the program, before distribution is opened up to the remainder of the province’s eligible adults. The two vaccines currently available in Canada, made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, have not been approved for people younger than 18.

Once residents are pre-registered, they will be contacted by their local health authority for the opportunity to visit one of mass vaccination centres that are being organized in 172 communities around the province. They will be set up in school gymnasiums, convention halls and stadiums, staffed by nurses and others who can be trained to administer the vaccine. Residents will emerge with a vaccination card, and instructions on when to return for their booster shot within 35 days.

Residents older than 79, or Indigenous elders older than 64, will be served first. Vaccinations will proceed based on age, descending in five-year increments. The last group to receive their shots will be those aged 18 to 24, with the last, second doses expected to be done in October.

The B.C. teachers union said they are concerned with the plan. “B.C. teachers, like many others, will be disappointed to see there is no prioritization for the front-line workers who have kept our schools, public services and economy open,” federation president Teri Mooring said in a statement.

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The Mayor of the Vancouver Island city of Duncan, which has seen a large wave of COVID-19 cases, expressed relief at word the program is under way. “The way that they rolled it out makes sense,” Michelle Staples said in an interview. “You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Before, there has been [this sense] that we have no idea how long this is going to go on.”

Ian MacPhee, comptroller of Prince of Whales, a marine-tour company operating out of Vancouver and Vancouver Island, said the prospect of widespread vaccination in B.C. provides some “hopeful certainty” for his tourism business.

But hope has a cost. He said his 27-year-old company faces the challenge of surviving to the point when many are vaccinated. “But how many limbs will we have left? We may be that soldier stumbling off the battlefield with only one arm and one leg,” said Mr. MacPhee, who is also an at-large member of the board of the Tourism Industry Association of B.C.

The province’s plan is banking on the delivery of only the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, but Dr. Henry said she is hoping a third vaccine, by AstraZeneca, will be approved shortly. That additional supply would allow the province to target some groups that are not currently prioritized but still facing elevated risk.

Until a majority of residents are vaccinated, the virus will continue to pose a risk, she noted. “We need to keep this bargain that we have made with each other, this social contract that we have, to keep ourselves, our communities, protected through this next few months, as we get towards the light, as we start to see the time when we will be able to come together again, when we will be able to take our masks off.”

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

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B.C. now has three clinics for ‘long-hauler’ COVID-19 patients with lingering symptoms – The Globe and Mail

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Katy McLean, a COVID-19 ‘long-hauler’ in Vancouver, on Jan. 22, 2021.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

British Columbia has launched a network of three clinics offering specialized treatments for COVID-19 patients still suffering from an array of ailments months after testing positive for the virus, with researchers using evidence from this care to better understand the long-term effects of the disease.

On Friday, a group of local health authorities announced units already operating at Vancouver General Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver have now been joined by one this week at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre in Surrey, still the B.C. community reporting the most new cases each day.

As the pandemic nears its first year in Canada, health authorities across the country are grappling with how to treat those patients, who refer to themselves as long haulers. Alberta has announced three similar clinics, while Ontario has one in Toronto and one in London.

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Most patients at the trio of B.C. clinics will see a doctor at the facility three months after they first feel ill and then have follow-up visits after six months and then a year. “We’re truly building this plane as we’re flying it and we haven’t reached the 12-month mark,” said Zachary Schwartz, head of the recovery clinic at Vancouver General Hospital.

Though the scientific research to date varies, Jesse Greiner, the head of St. Paul’s clinic, told The Globe and Mail that a leading study showed up to 13 per cent of patients in the United Kingdom self-reported still having symptoms a month after first getting ill. A further 4.5 per cent reported having at least one symptom a month further along, and 2.5 per cent still felt sick at 12 weeks.

In B.C., 56,455 people were listed as recovered in the province’s Friday update, which means more than 1,400 people could still be fighting coronavirus-related symptoms three months or longer after first noticing them.

Dr. Schwartz, whose clinic began seeing long haulers in November, said the most common problem among patients is serious fatigue, but many also experience insomnia, ringing in their ears, tremors or a foggy brain.

“It’s a very individual disease, and everyone has a different history and story to them which makes treatment very difficult,” he said.

For Katy McLean, a Vancouver officer manager, her current experience is comparable to her recovery from a bad concussion once suffered after she fell down the stairs. More than four months after she first tested positive for coronavirus, the 42-year-old still finds it impossible to walk more than 10 minutes at a time and has to write everything down because of short-term memory loss.

“I feel like I have a brutal hangover every day and like I’ve smoked several packs of cigarettes,” she said.

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Still, she said she is feeling positive after recently reducing her work hours to 80 per cent of full time. Ms. McLean has found success managing her fatigue by setting intentional goals for each day. She said she is also incredibly grateful to live with her partner, who is a nurse.

“If I had been living alone I think I probably would have had to go live with a family member because that’s how much my function has been impaired,” she said.

Dr. Greiner, the internist who is in charge of the clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital, said the most important treatment to date has been educating people about how their activities can lead to their symptoms flaring.

Often, people experience a worsening of their ailments two to three days after they exert themselves heavily while recovering, he said. But mental and emotional stress can also kick off these bouts of bad symptoms, he added. His clinic has seen 160 patients since it opened in the fall.

“The learning that happens from doing this over and over again really just takes time … listening to patients and really trying to hear their stories and understand what their suffering is and where it’s coming from,” Dr. Greiner said.

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

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B.C. records 508 new COVID-19 cases, 9 deaths as vaccine plan released – News 1130

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Health officials in B.C. say the risk of COVID-19 transmission in long-term care and in communities remains too high to lift restrictions, as they announce nine more people have died from the virus in the last 24 hours.

In a joint statement Friday, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 508 more people have been contracted the coronavirus in the last 24 hours.

On the heels of an announcement of how the province will proceed with immunization, Dix and Henry remind British Columbians that following guidelines and public health orders continue to be critical.

“We need to remember our risk remains high right now, even as we protect more and more people with vaccine. We are not at the point where we can lift restrictions in our community or long-term care,” they write.

“We must continue to use our COVID-19 layers of protection and do all we can to stop transmission in our communities right now.”

So far, 110,556 doses of the vaccine have been administered. Of those, 2,202 are second doses.

A new outbreak has been declared at the North Fraser Pretrial Services Centre in Port Coquitlam, and outbreaks have been declared at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, and Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster.

A total of 315 people are hospitalized, 74 are in intensive care.

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