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Fraser Health says data review shows 'limited' COVID-19 transmission in Surrey schools – Cloverdale Reporter – Cloverdale Reporter

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New data from Fraser Health says COVID-19 transmission in Surrey schools was “limited” between January and June of this year.

The health authority released the data review Tuesday (Aug. 24) that examined 2,935 of 3,287 cases of COVID-19 reported between January and June, 2021.

But Surrey Teachers’ Association president Matt Westphal said “there are limitations” to the data, adding that it doesn’t include cases from the beginning of the year and it “may not cast an entirely accurate picture that way.”

READ ALSO: COVID outbreak forces Surrey school to close for two weeks, along with one in Delta, Nov. 14, 2020

READ ALSO: Second Surrey elementary school declares COVID-19 outbreak, closes for two weeks, Nov. 27, 2020

Before the winter break, at least two schools were shut down due to an outbreak and there were numerous classes in self-isolation. Then when students returned to school following spring break, the Surrey school district was the first to require masks for staff and students in grades 4 to 12 indoors at all times.

READ ALSO: Masks required ‘at all times’ indoors for grades 4-12 at Surrey school district, March 27, 2021

The Fraser Health report says 90 per cent of school-associated cases in Surrey “originated in households or the community, not in schools.”

However, Westphal noted that Fraser Health only considers a case to have in-school transmission if they can exclude any possible household or community spread. So if two students, who sit next to each other in class, but hang out outside of school caught the virus, it would count as outside of school, he said.

In May, a Fraser Health report was posted online that showed one-third of school-acquired cases spread into the community. The data reflected the time period when students returned to school in January until March 7.

READ ALSO: Fraser Health still unsure if 333 cases of COVID among students, teachers were acquired in school, May 12, 2021

READ ALSO: Surrey communities recording more COVID-19 cases also seeing lower vaccination rates, May 8, 2021

Of the 2,049 cases found among school staff, teachers and students from January to early March, Fraser Health considers 267 –13 per cent – to be school-acquired. Of those, 88 lead to community or household spread.

However, Fraser Health data shows there were an additional 333 cases with “suspect acquisition in school” that were not included in the 267 confirmed school acquired cases. If those cases were added to school-based infections, that would push the percentage teachers and students who caught COVID-19 at school from 13 per cent to 29 per cent, more than doubling it.

Meantime, in the January-to-June report, staff accounted for 11 per cent of cases, while students were the remaining 89 per cent, and about three per cent of the overall school population in Surrey was reported to have COVID-19 during the study period.

Westphal said that while the three per cent may seem low, some people go extremely sick, some ended up in ICU and there are long-term effects for COVID-19.

“That’s something to keep in mind,” he said. “I wouldn’t take this as a reason not to have stronger health-and-safety measures.”

With that, Westphal said he is disappointed about the Ministry of Education’s announcement that masks will only be mandatory for grades 4 to 12 and staff. Masks are recommended, or encouraged, for kindergarten to Grade 3.

READ ALSO: Masks required for Grade 4 and older in B.C. as part of return-to-school plan, Aug. 24, 2021

“We know this is a group of students who can get (COVID-19), transmit it and don’t have access to vaccines,” he said. “They really need the benefit of every protection we can give them.”

However, he said there were some positives in the announcement, including there could be different regional approaches depending on how the pandemic affects different communities.

He said that was part of the frustration last year when Surrey was incredibly hard hit during the second and third waves.

COLUMN: Localized COVID-19 data could have helped Surrey communities hit hardest, May 22, 2021

– With files from Katya Slepian



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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US President Joe Biden urges Covid-19 booster shots for those now eligible – Times of India

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WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Friday urged those now eligible for Covid-19 booster shots to get the added protection a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the doses for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans.
Opening a major new phase in the U.S vaccination drive against Covid-19, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on a series of recommendations from a panel of advisers late Thursday. Biden praised the decision and aimed to set aside any unease about the vaccination, saying that he would get his own booster soon.
“It’s hard to acknowledge I’m over 65, but I’ll be getting my booster shot,” Biden said. “It’s a bear, isn’t it?”
The advisers said boosters should be offered to people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health problems. The extra dose would be given once they are at least six months past their last Pfizer shot.
However, Walensky decided to make one recommendation that the panel had rejected.
The panel on Thursday voted against saying that people can get a booster if they are ages 18 to 64 years and are health-care workers or have another job that puts them at increased risk of being exposed to the virus. But Walensky disagreed and put that recommendation back in, noting that such a move aligns with an FDA booster authorization decision earlier this week. The category she included covers people who live in institutional settings that increase their risk of exposure, such as prisons or homeless shelters, as well as health care workers.
An administration official said the White House did not have input in Walensky’s decision nor was given a heads-up. Biden on Friday said “the decision is left to the scientists and the doctors. That’s what happened here.”
The panel had offered the option of a booster for those ages 18 to 49 who have chronic health problems and want one. But the advisers refused to go further and open boosters to otherwise healthy front-line health care workers who aren’t at risk of severe illness but want to avoid even a mild infection.
The panel voted 9 to 6 to reject that proposal. Walensky decided to disregard the advisory committee’s counsel, issuing a statement saying she had restored the recommendation.
“As CDC Director, it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact,” Walensky said late Thursday night. “At CDC, we are tasked with analyzing complex, often imperfect data to make concrete recommendations that optimize health. In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we must take actions that we anticipate will do the greatest good.”
It’s rare for a CDC director to overrule the panel recommendation; experts said it has only happened once this century.
Experts say getting the unvaccinated their first shots remains the top priority, and the panel wrestled with whether the booster debate was distracting from that goal. Biden stressed that the administration’s focus remained on getting people to get their first shots and that he intended to keep rolling out “vaccination requirements wherever I can.”
“The refusal to get vaccinated have cost all of us,” the president said. “It is not hyperbole: it is literally a tragedy. Don’t let it be your tragedy.”
All three of the Covid-19 vaccines used in the US are still highly protective against severe illness, hospitalization and death, even with the spread of the extra-contagious delta variant. But only about 182 million Americans are fully vaccinated, or just 55% of the population.
“We can give boosters to people, but that’s not really the answer to this pandemic,” said Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot of Vanderbilt University. “Hospitals are full because people are not vaccinated. We are declining care to people who deserve care because we are full of unvaccinated Covid-positive patients.”
Thursday’s decision represented a dramatic scaling back of the Biden administration plan announced last month to dispense boosters to nearly everyone to shore up their protection. Late Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration, like the CDC panel, signed off on Pfizer boosters for a much narrower slice of the population than the White House envisioned.
The booster plan marks an important shift in the nation’s vaccination drive. Britain and Israel are already giving a third round of shots over strong objections from the World Health Organization that poor countries don’t have enough for their initial doses.
Walensky opened Thursday’s meeting by stressing that vaccinating the unvaccinated remains the top goal “here in America and around the world.”
Walensky acknowledged that the data on who really needs a booster right away “are not perfect.” “Yet collectively they form a picture for us,” she said, “and they are what we have in this moment to make a decision about the next stage in this pandemic.”
The CDC panel stressed that its recommendations will be changed if new evidence shows more people need a booster.
The CDC advisers expressed concern over the millions of Americans who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots early in the vaccine rollout. The government still hasn’t considered boosters for those brands and has no data on whether it is safe or effective to mix-and-match and give those people a Pfizer shot.
“I just don’t understand how later this afternoon we can say to people 65 and older, ‘You’re at risk for severe illness and death, but only half of you can protect yourselves right now,’” said Dr. Sarah Long of Drexel University.
About 26 million Americans got their last Pfizer dose at least six months ago, about half of whom are 65 or older. It’s not clear how many more would meet the CDC panel’s booster qualifications.
CDC data show the vaccines still offer strong protection against serious illness for all ages, but there is a slight drop among the oldest adults. And immunity against milder infection appears to be waning months after people’s initial immunization.
For most people, if you’re not in a group recommended for a booster, “it’s really because we think you’re well-protected,” said Dr. Matthew Daley of Kaiser Permanente Colorado.
Public health experts not involved in Thursday’s decision said it is unlikely people seeking third doses at a drugstore or other site will be required to prove they qualify.
Even with the introduction of boosters, someone who has gotten just the first two doses would still be considered fully vaccinated, according to the CDC’s Dr. Kathleen Dooling. That is an important question to people in parts of the country where you need to show proof of vaccination to eat in a restaurant or enter other places of business.
Among people who stand to benefit from a booster, there are few risks, the CDC concluded. Serious side effects from the first two Pfizer doses are exceedingly rare, including heart inflammation that sometimes occurs in younger men. Data from Israel, which has given nearly 3 million people — mostly 60 and older — a third Pfizer dose, has uncovered no red flags.
The U.S. has already authorized third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for certain people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients and transplant recipients. Other Americans, healthy or not, have managed to get boosters, in some cases simply by asking.

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B.C. records seven COVID-related deaths, 80% of those eligible fully vaccinated – News 1130

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Seven more British Columbians have died due to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, as Fraser Health once again recorded the most new cases in the province.

A total of 743 new infections were recorded on Friday, including 292 in Fraser Health and 177 in Interior Health. Vancouver Coastal Health recorded 111 cases and Northern Health saw 106. Island health recorded the remaining 57 cases.

Four of the latest deaths were within the Fraser Health Authority, while Interior Health, Northern Health, and Island Health recorded one each.

The Fraser Health region also has the most active cases, with 2,029 of the 5,979 province-wide.

Related articles: Province begins crack-down on businesses that ignore vaccine card enforcement

The province says 319 COVID-19 patients are in the hospital, including 149 in the ICU.

Earlier Friday, the health ministry issued a statement, confirming all COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized are counted in the daily totals once they enter the facility, but are removed from the total even if they remain hospitalized but are no longer infectious.

“Once a patient in critical care is no longer infectious with COVID-19, the patient is removed from daily critical-care totals. However, for planning purposes, these patients are still included in the overall COVID-19 counts for the hospital,” the ministry added in a statement.

It says some patients need to stay in the hospital for “difficulties with other health conditions … that are no longer directly tied to COVID-19,” or because they may have caught the virus while in the hospital and still need care for the original issue they were admitted for.

“This means some patients who entered hospital or critical care as a COVID-19 patient may no longer be counted as COVID-19 patients once they are no longer infectious, even though they remain in hospital.”

It says as of Sept. 21, 2021, there were 152 patients in B.C. hospitals in that category. “Discontinued isolation,” which is usually over after 10 days if the patient doesn’t have a fever and their symptoms are improving.

B.C. reaches 80% mark for those with two vaccine doses

In the past day, 7,858 British Columbians aged 12 and up received their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, bringing the total to an even 80 per cent. Another 6,778 people received their first dose bringing that percentage up to 87.5.

According to the province, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 75 per cent of cases between Sept. 16 and Sept. 22. It also says they accounted for 81.9 per cent of hospitalizations between Sept. 9 and Sept. 22.

Related articles:

There are 21 active outbreaks at health-care facilities:

Long-term care: Northcrest Care Centre, Westminster House, Menno Terrace East (Fraser Health), Arbutus Care Centre, Louis Brier Home and Hospital (Vancouver Coastal Health), Village at Mill Creek – second floor, Cottonwoods Care Centre, Spring Valley Care Centre, Kamloops Seniors Village, Hillside Village, The Hamlets at Westsyde, Joseph Creek Care Village, Overlander (Interior Health), Jubilee Lodge (Northern Health), and Victoria Chinatown Care Centre (Island Health)

Acute care: Chilliwack General Hospital (Fraser Health) and Fort St. John Hospital (Northern Health)

Assisted or independent living: Sunset Manor (Fraser Health), David Lloyd Jones, Sun Pointe Village, and Hardy View Lodge (Interior Health)

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Rodents on the rise: How to avoid an infestation this fall

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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.

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