VICTORIA — A surge in COVID-19 cases spurred by the Delta variant is prompting British Columbia health officials to enact mandatory vaccine requirements for all staff and volunteers at long-term care and assisted living sites.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday that people living in such settings are at particular risk and transmission from unvaccinated people has led to outbreaks.
“I recognize that this is a change from the direction we announced earlier in the spring and June, where we thought it would be sufficient to have additional measures such as testing in place,” Henry said. “We have now seen with the transmission of the new variants that we need extra protection in this highly risky situation.”
Staff, volunteers and personal service providers are expected to be vaccinated by Oct. 12, and those who haven’t had their shots in the meantime must wear masks and additional protective gear and be tested regularly, Henry said.
Immunization data will be collected by the Public Health Office and will be used by officials to determine where vaccination efforts should be focused.
When asked if other B.C. businesses should be able to hire or fire staff based on their vaccination status, Henry said she supported businesses making decisions that allow staff to remain safe.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said the new requirements are a necessary step to protect residents and staff at seniors’ care centres.
“The fact of an outbreak, I can tell you as minister of health but also as a family member, is incredibly disruptive and painful to residents of long-term care, families and everyone else,” he said.
Dix said the government cannot predict if legal action would be taken against them for mandating vaccines in such a setting, but added that the government believes it is on a strong legal footing.
The Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Nurses Association previously called for mandatory vaccinations for health-care workers.
“There is significant evidence that vaccines are safe and effective and as health professionals who are leading the vaccination campaigns, it is the right call and an appropriate step,” Dr. Ann Collins, the president of the association, said in a statement last week.
Quebec’s health minister said during a news conference this week the province was looking at making COVID-19 vaccinations for health-care workers mandatory in the province.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said this month he’s asked the clerk of the Privy Council to look at making vaccinations mandatory in some federally regulated workplaces.
Both Ontario and Alberta have said they wouldn’t make vaccinations mandatory for anything.
The B.C. General Employees’ Union, which represents more than 23,000 members in the health-care sector, including 4,800 in long-term care and assisted living, said the provincial government also needs to reintroduce single-site restrictions, which forbids employees from working at more than one care home.
“With the rapid spread of the Delta variant in B.C. and elsewhere, it’s critical that our province takes the steps necessary to prevent the spread of the virus and protect our vulnerable neighbours and front-line workers,” union treasurer Paul Finch said in a statement.
More than 80 per cent of eligible residents in the province have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and about 72 per cent of people have been fully vaccinated.
The announcement comes as British Columbia’s COVID-19 infection rate peaks to levels not seen since mid-May.
British Columbia reported 513 new cases of COVID-19 cases Thursday, with more than half occurring in the Interior Health authority.
There has also been one death, bringing the total number of fatalities to 1,779.
There are currently eight COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities in the province, including four in the Interior health authority, where the provincial health officer has tightened restrictions in the last two weeks.
The surge in cases in the central Okanagan has been attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant.
— By Nick Wells in Vancouver
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2021.
The Canadian Press
Rodents on the rise: How to avoid an infestation this fall
Rodents have become a larger problem for Canadian homeowners since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pests that lived near bars and restaurants moved into residential neighbourhoods during lockdowns, spreading out their colonies and causing trouble.
With colder weather just around the corner, these rodents are likely to break into people’s homes. Invasions are especially common in the fall and winter when pests seek a warmer place to stay. Mice sneak in via the holes in the wall, and rats dig underground and into the basement.
While many homeowners deal with mice every year, it is important that they be kept out. Rodents are potential carriers of disease, and they will damage the home’s interior. The following tips, when used together, will help ensure that your home is pest-free this winter.
Block Entry Points
Rodents come from outside. While it may seem like they appear out of thin air, rodents find openings in the outer walls of the home and sneak their way inside. Wall vents, cracked window frames, and doors that have been left open are often to blame.
Examine your home’s exterior very carefully and use caulking or mesh to block the openings you find. Check between the layers of your siding, underneath your deck, and along the edges of your soffits for openings of 5mm or more. Put weatherstripping on the bottoms of your doors and seal cracks in the foundation with epoxy.
If you’re not sure you got them all, contact a mice exterminator for an inspection and pest-proofing service. Professionals offer complete pest-proofing in addition to pest control. They can find the entry points you missed and close them for you. If you know that there are rats in your neighbourhood, a professional can protect your foundation by digging a trench and attaching a mesh to its sides. This will prevent rats from digging into the basement.
Do Some Fall Cleaning
Spring isn’t the only time of year for cleaning. Mice, rats, ants, and other pests can smell the food you keep, and they will want their share. Deep clean the kitchen this fall and maintain it to keep pests out when it gets cold. Vacuum everywhere and clean the floors beneath your major appliances. Keep surfaces clean and store food in airtight containers to reduce odours. Never leave dirty dishes out overnight and use lidded garbage cans.
In addition to food, pests love clutter. Rodents like to hide in quiet, cluttered areas, like messy basements and storage rooms. This way, they can hide as they move from place to place. Get organized this fall and get rid of what you don’t need. Move objects off the floor and create space so there is nowhere for pests to hide.
Tidy up the Yard
Because rodents love food and clutter, it is important that you maintain the yard, as well. Trim back the vines, bushes, and plants that grow around the walls of the home to reduce the number of potential hiding spots. Move patio furniture and firewood away from the sides of the home, as well. Mow the lawn, rake the leaves, and bag all your organic materials for collection.
Pest control experts recommend getting rid of the bird feeder because it attracts rodents. While it is unfortunate, bird feeders are magnets of animal activity. Consider getting rid of it when the temperature cools or switch to one that hangs far away. Harvest your apples and home-grown produce on time, and secure your garbage cans with bungee cords or tight locks.
Quebec man punches nurse in face for giving wife COVID-19 vaccine – Saanich News
Police in Quebec say they are looking for a man who is alleged to have repeatedly punched a nurse in the face because he was angry she had vaccinated his wife against COVID-19.
Police say a man between the ages of 30 and 45 approached the nurse on Monday morning at a pharmacy in Sherbrooke, Que., about 150 kilometres east of Montreal.
They say he accused the nurse of vaccinating his wife against her consent and repeatedly punched the nurse before leaving the store.
Police say the nurse had to be treated in hospital for serious injuries to her face.
Quebec’s order of nurses tweeted today that the alleged assault was unacceptable and wished the nurse a full recovery.
Sherbrooke police are asking for the public’s help in finding the assailant, who they say has short dark hair, dark eyes, thick eyebrows and a tattoo resembling a cross on his hand.
—The Canadian Press
Fraser Health accounts for nearly half of 832 cases recorded in B.C., five deaths – News 1130
VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C. is seeing yet another day of high COVID-19 cases, with another 832 people testing positive for the virus and five dying.
Nearly half of the new cases Thursday are in the Fraser Health region — which has seen 377 new infections.
That’s more than double the cases in any other health authority, including Interior Health, which saw a dramatic rise in cases over the summer.
There are 153 new cases in Interior Health, 114 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 117 in Northern Health, and 71 in Island Health.
Of the five people that have died in the last 24 hours, two deaths were recorded in Fraser Health, two in Interior Health and one person was in the Northern Health region.
New #covid19 cases up again – 832 today@Fraserhealth has nearly half the province’s new cases
Active cases up – 5697
ICU up to 148 of the 330 in hospital
Five additional deaths#bcpoli @news1130 pic.twitter.com/tzKkbkY33P
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) September 23, 2021
Of the 5,697 active cases, 330 people are in hospital, of whom 148 are in the ICU.
Between Sept. 15 and 21, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 75.5 per cent of new infections.
From Sept. 8 and 21, they accounted for 82.6 per cent of hospitalizations.
Since the start of the pandemic, 181,769 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the province, 173,786 people who tested positive have recovered and 1,915 people have died.
The province says those who are unvaccinated are 25.8 times as likely to be hospitalized after age is taken into consideration.
Of all eligible adults in the province, 87.8 per cent have had their first dose and 80.7 per cent are fully vaccinated.
There are a total of 22 active COVID-19 outbreaks at health care facilities.
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