With nearly 750 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19, the province has finalized plans for Canadian Red Cross to set up an “alternate care centre,” or tent hospital, at the University of Alberta’s Butterdome.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Wednesday the facility would create 100 more inpatient beds if needed, but that there were no plans to staff the site as of yet.
“This is a purely precautionary measure for use if needed in the future.”
The tent hospital will take several weeks to set up, Hinshaw said.
The Butterdome was used as an assessment centre in the spring.
The province confirmed 1,270 new cases of COVID-19 over some 17,500 tests in 24 hours.
Its positivity rate has dropped to 7.3 per cent, although 749 people remain in hospital with the disease. Of those, 139 are receiving intensive care.
Alberta’s top doctor also reported 16 new deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the total death tally since March to 760.
“It is a sobering statistic that in less than 10 months, more Albertans have died from COVID-19 than have died from influenza in the last 10 years combined.”
While Hinshaw said no demographic is the sole reason cases in the province rose, she reminded the public that it does affect every age group – including young adults who aren’t even the most vulnerable.
“In Alberta to date, more than 32,000 people between the ages of 20 and 39 have contracted COVID-19. More than 380 of them have been hospitalized. And sadly, eight of these have died,” she said. “To put this in perspective, if you gathered every Albertan between the ages of 20 and 39 who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, they would fill the Saddledome in Calgary, the Centrium in Red Deer and the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge.”
HOW VACCINE ROLLOUT WILL WORK
With the first 3,900 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses already administered in the province, and another 25,350 to arrive next week, Hinshaw took several minutes to reassure Albertans it had gone through rigorous checks at both the provincial and federal level.
Respiratory therapists, ICU staff and physicians, and long-term care and supportive living staff of designated facilities were among the first immunized.
Some of the 25,350 doses arriving next will be kept to be administered as the second dose for those who received the vaccine this week. The rest will be given to priority health care workers across the province. As the province is given the green light to transport the vaccine – which needs to be refrigerated at ultra-cold temperatures – it will look at immunizing residents of long-term and supportive living facilities.
As the first months of the new year go on, the vaccine will be available to more health care workers like home care staff and ER workers. In part ‘B’ of the first rollout phase, any Albertan aged 75 or older will be offered the vaccine, as well as those aged 65 or older on First Nations and Metis settlements, and workers in COVID-19 wards. The focus, Hinshaw said, will be people at highest risk of severe outcomes of contracting COVID-19 and the people who care for them or who are in shortest supply across the health care system.
Hinshaw said the second phase of rollout could include first responders and frontline professionals as soon as April, but that those specific groups would be decided in the new year.
“As more vaccine is available and as potentially new vaccines are licensed, we may be able to shift those dates, if things move more quickly than anticipated. But at this point, that is our anticipated timeline.”
She confirmed some “groups” have requested expedited access. Alberta Health would be considering their services when it made decisions for Phase 2, Hinshaw said.
Hinshaw urged Albertans to get immunized when a vaccine is available to the general public.
“There is overwhelming scientific evidence that vaccination is the best defense against serious infections. We’re taking every precaution, and acting on clear evidence showing this vaccine is safe for Albertans, and it works.
“When it is your turn, please get immunized. There’s an act of kindness for yourself, for your loved ones and for your community.”
B.C. now has three clinics for ‘long-hauler’ COVID-19 patients with lingering symptoms – 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.
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.
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.
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B.C. records 508 new COVID-19 cases, 9 deaths as vaccine plan released – News 1130
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.”
BC’s #covid19 update Jan 21
Steady (but still high) new cases
Active cases & ppl isolated trending down
LTC outbreaks going down
Avg of more than 10 ppl dying every day in January
Acute care outbreaks still high
Better but a long way to go#bcpoli @NEWS1130 https://t.co/bNNqec8GoA pic.twitter.com/RBWbOY2ajH
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) January 22, 2021
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.
Coronavirus: Dr. Bonnie outlines B.C.'s mass immunization plan | Watch News Videos Online – Globalnews.ca
Speaking at a press briefing on Friday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines the COVID-19 vaccine rollout schedule and when British Columbians can expect to start receiving their doses. The province says the goal is to provide 7.4 million doses and will prioritize vaccines based on age.
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