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December 19, 2020 – COVID-19 Update from Dr. Theresa Tam Chief Medical Officer of Health – Net Newsledger

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Dr. Theresa Tam

As the resurgence of COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are tracking a range of epidemiological indicators to monitor where the disease is most active, where it is spreading and how it is impacting the health of Canadians and public health, laboratory and healthcare capacity. The following is the latest summary on national numbers and trends, and the actions we all need to be taking to maintain COVID-19 at manageable levels across the country.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 495,346 cases of COVID-19, including 14,040 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Though many areas continue to experience high infection rates, it is important to remember that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. This is why it is important for everyone to continue with individual precautions to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.

At this time, there are 75,695 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 6,653 new cases (Dec 11-17). COVID-19 is spreading among people of all ages, with high infection rates across all age groups. However, nationally, infection rates remain highest among those aged 80 years and older who are at highest risk for severe outcomes.

Likewise, outbreaks continue to occur in high-risk populations and communities, including hospitals and long term care homes, congregate living settings, Indigenous communities, and more remote areas of the country. The downstream impacts of weeks and months of elevated disease activity continues to be seen in still rising numbers of severe illness and death, significant disruptions to health services and ongoing challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies.

Nationally, hospitalisations and deaths, which tend to lag behind increased disease activity by one to several weeks are still increasing. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 3,194 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Dec 11-17), including 650 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 115 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily. This situation continues to burden local healthcare resources, particularly in areas where infection rates are highest. These impacts affect everyone, as the healthcare workforce and health system bear a heavy strain, important elective medical procedures are delayed or postponed, adding to pre-existing backlogs.

This week, we welcomed more exciting news on the vaccine front, from the first Canadians being vaccinated against COVID-19 to the prospect of early delivery of doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, pending regulatory approval assuring quality, safety and effectiveness.

Even as we move into this hopeful next chapter of Canada’s COVID-19 response, our collective efforts to bend the curve remain crucial to our success. The latest longer range forecasting, using a model from Simon Fraser University, forecasts that we could have over 8,000 cases daily by the beginning of January 2021. While lower than last week, these numbers are still significant and put us on a trajectory for a strong resurgence for the next two months. This underscores that the partnership between public health and the public at large is still vitally important to bringing down the infection rate. Our continued efforts are not only helping public health authorities to quickly interrupt chains of transmission, they also assist the broader health workforce to plan for and rollout out one of the most complex immunization campaigns in Canada’s history.

While we continue to prepare the way for widespread and lasting control of COVID-19 through safe and effective vaccines, Canadians are urged to continue with individual practices that keep us and our families safer: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, follow local public health advice and maintain individual protective practices of physical distancing, hand, cough and surface hygiene and wearing a face mask as appropriate (including when you cannot consistently keep two metres apart from people outside your immediate household).

Canadians can also go the extra mile by sharing credible information on COVID-19 risks and prevention practices and measures to reduce COVID-19 in communities and by downloading the COVID Alert app to break the cycle of infection and help limit the spread of COVID-19. Read my backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others.

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada

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COVID-19: Outbreaks reported at St. Paul's, Royal Columbian hospitals – Vancouver Sun

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Article content

Health officials have declared three COVID-19 outbreaks at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver and one at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster.

Providence Health Care said the three outbreaks are in separate units at St. Paul’s Hospital, and are not considered related.

The outbreaks are in 7C General Medicine, 6B Renal, and the 5A, 5B Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care units.

Providence says only rooms 5A, 5B at the Heart Centre are not accepting new patients or transfers because of the outbreak, but all other areas of the Heart Centre are open.

St. Paul’s Hospital remains open and is receiving patients who require urgent and emergent care. At this time, there is no impact on other areas of the hospital, say health officials.

Meantime, Fraser Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Royal Columbian Hospital Friday after evidence of transmission in a surgical unit.

Two patients at Royal Columbian Hospital have tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreak is limited to one unit, which is temporarily closed to admissions.

Fraser Health says it has stepped up cleaning and is conducting contact tracing. The emergency department at Royal Columbian Hospital remains open and there has been no impact to any other areas of the hospital, according to health officials.

Fraser Health says it has notified all patients on the affected unit about the outbreak.

ticrawford@postmedia.com

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COVID-19 outbreak over at Delta long-term care facility, says Fraser Health – Surrey Now-Leader – Surrey Now-Leader

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Fraser Health has declared the COVID-19 outbreak over at a long-term care facility in Delta.

In an information bulletin Friday (Jan. 22), the health authority said the outbreak was over at Good Samaritan Delta View Care Centre. The outbreak was first declared Nov. 1, 2020.

According to the Ministry of Health’s weekly report on Jan. 20 for outbreaks in B.C. care homes, there were a total of 65 cases, with 26 among residents and patients and 39 among staff.

There were eight deaths, with all of them either residents or patients.

This was the second outbreak at the facility.

Meantime, Fraser Health has also declared outbreaks at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster and North Fraser Pretrial Services Centre in Port Coquitlam.

At Royal Columbian, two patients have tested positive for the virus after “evidence of transmission in a surgical unit.” The outbreak is “limited to one unit,” which is temporarily closed to admissions.

The emergency department remains open.

At North Fraser Pretrial Services Centre, 20 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.

Fraser Health said it is working with BC Corrections and Provincial Health Services Authority infection control.



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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COVID-19 vaccine update: B.C.'s premier, top health officials to give update on province's immunization plan – CTV News Vancouver

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VANCOUVER —
British Columbians eager to know when it’ll be their turn to get a COVID-19 vaccine were given a full immunization schedule on Friday.

Premier John Horgan announced the full plan alongside Health Minister Adrian Dix, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Penny Ballem, who is B.C.’s executive lead for the province’s immunization rollout.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us all in extremely difficult ways,” Horgan said on Friday.

“Together, we have faced this pandemic with strength, courage and compassion, and we are starting to feel optimistic that one day COVID-19 will be in our rear-view.”

The province said its goal is to reduce deaths and severe illness, and since older people are at highest risk of falling ill from the virus, groups will be prioritized by age.

Officials explained the plan is based only on access to the Pfizer’s and Moderna’s two-dose vaccines. If other vaccines are approved for use in Canada, more populations or entire communities may be targeted at an earlier date. 

Previously, B.C.’s health officials announced who would be vaccinated in Phase 2, taking place in February and March, including community-based seniors who are at least 80 years old and Indigenous seniors who are at least 65 years old.  

On Friday, health officials announced Phase 3 and Phase 4 of the immunization plan, which together stretch from April through to September. 

“At every step, our plan puts the health and safety of our most vulnerable people at the centre, and when it’s your turn, I encourage everyone to get their COVID-19 vaccine and help us move forward, together, to a healthier province,” Horgan said. 

Phase 3, from April to June, includes people aged 79 to 65, in five-year increments based on birth year. People with several heath conditions will also be eligible during this phase as they’re considered “clinically extremely vulnerable.” A full list of those conditions is included at the bottom of this article. 

Here is the timeline for Phase 3, based on birth year:

  • Anyone aged 79 to 70 can get their first dose in April and their second dose in May.
  • Anyone aged 69 to 65 can get their first dose in May and their second dose in June.
  • Anyone aged 64 to 60 can get their first dose in June and their second dose in July.
  • Anyone aged 79 to 16 who is considered “clinically extremely vulnerable” can get their doses between April and June.

“Our immunization plan is based on evidence and data and focused on immunizing people who are most vulnerable to the virus first,” Henry said Friday.

“We know that the single-greatest risk factor for illness and death from COVID-19 is increasing age.”

Phase 4, from July to September, will include people aged 59 to 18. 

Here is the timeline for Phase 4, based on birth year:

  • Anyone aged 59 to 40 can get their first dose in July and their second dose in August.
  • Anyone aged 39 to 35 can get their first dose in July or August and their second dose in August or September.
  • Anyone aged 34 to 30 can get their first dose in August and their second dose in September.
  • Anyone aged 29 to 25 can get their first dose in August or September and their second dose in September.
  • Anyone aged 24 to 18 can get their first and second doses in September.

Extensive trials haven’t been completed on people under the age of 18, officials explained.

“Right now it’s not necessarily a concern in that the evidence still supports young people are much less likely to get infected and much less likely to have severe illness,” Henry said.

“It is very likely once we have more traditional vaccines, they will be available for younger people … but our focus is on those most likely to have severe illness.” 

How do I sign up for a vaccine?

More clinics will be set up in March by health authorities and may include mobile sites and home visits where necessary. Large spaces will likely be used for mass immunization in urban areas including in stadiums, convention halls, arenas, community halls and school gyms. In rural areas, mobile clinics in self-contained vehicles – like transit buses – might be used. 

To get a vaccine, pre-registering will begin in March, with appointments set up by age about two to four weeks in advance. Registration will be available by mobile device, computer or phone. As well, a province-wide communication campaign is launching in February to let British Columbians know how they can register. 

On the day of their appointment, people will have to go through a check-in process, get their vaccine and then wait in an observation area for about 15 minutes afterwards to watch for adverse reactions. Those who get a vaccine will receive a paper copy of their record and a reminder for when to book their second dose. Digital copies of a vaccine record will also be available. 

Health officials explained that nobody will lose their place in line. For example, if someone is eligible to get their vaccine in Phase 2 but can’t for whatever reason, they can be immunized at any point after. 

What health conditions are considered ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’?

Officials explained on Friday that anyone aged 16 to 79 who has a condition that makes them extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 can get their dose starting in April, regardless of age. Officials estimate there are about 180,000 people in B.C. who are eligible for early vaccination. 

Those conditions include:

  • Solid organ transplant recipients
  • People with specific cancers including of the blood or bone marrow such as leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
  • People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
  • People with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
  • People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
  • People having other targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
  • People who have had bone marrow or stem-cell transplants in the last six months or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • People with severe respiratory conditions, including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • People with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency, homozygous sickle cell disease)
  • People on immunosuppression therapies enough to significantly increase risk of infection (biologic modifiers, high-dose steroids, AZT, cyclophosphamide)
  • People who had a splenectomy (spleen removed)
  • Adults with very significant developmental disabilities that increase risk (details to come from the health ministry)
  • Adults on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease (Stage 5)
  • Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
  • Significant neuromuscular conditions requiring respiratory support

As of Thursday, B.C. had administered 104,901 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines so far, including 1,680 second doses. 

It’s estimated approximately 4.3 million people will be vaccinated in B.C. by the end of September. 

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