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More COVID-19 cases discovered at Saanich Peninsula Hospital – Times Colonist

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A COVID-19 outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital is more widespread than first thought, with more cases discovered Thursday in both staff and patients, says provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

As of Wednesday, one staff member and five patients had tested positive for COVID-19 at Saanich Peninsula Hospital.

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Island Health is expected to release an update today.

The outbreak is “still confined,” but additional testing is ongoing, said Henry. The hospital remains closed to admission, but the emergency department is still operating. Patients who need to be admitted will be taken to Victoria General Hospital.

Saanich Peninsula Hospital and West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni both reported outbreaks on Tuesday.

Units involved at Saanich Peninsula included acute-care and palliative care, but given the small size of the hospital, the entire acute-care facility is under outbreak status.

The health care worker who tested positive is self isolating, while two patients were discharged to recover at home, and three were transferred to Royal Jubilee Hospital, a COVID-19 designated hospital.

On Wednesday, Island Health said it hadn’t determined whether the infections occurred in the community or in hospital. The infected health care worker did not have contact with all of the patients who tested positive.

The outbreak at West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni on Wednesday was confined to the medical-surgical B-wing.

One staff member and one patient tested positive for COVID-19. The health care worker is isolating at home, while the patient was transferred to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, one of three COVID-19 designated sites.

In both outbreaks, Island Health says it has implemented precautions, including enhanced cleaning and contact tracing, infection control, testing and personal protective equipment.

On Thursday, Island Health recorded 10 new cases of COVID-19, out of a total of 694 new cases in the province: 114 in Vancouver Coastal, 465 in Fraser Health, 10 in Island Health, 82 in Interior Health, and 23 in Northern Health.

There are now 9,103 active cases in the province, with 325 people in hospital, including 80 in intensive or critical care. The province also announced 12 new deaths on Thursday, for a total of 481 in the province to date.

Henry said Thursday that B.C. health officials are planning to begin vaccinations against the virus in the first week of January.

Henry expects the province will have two vaccines in January, February and March — one from Pfizer and the other from Moderna.

“Our planning construct is to be ready to start the first week of January and to hope to have everybody done by September of next year,” said Henry.

Initially, there will not be enough for everybody, she said. But vaccines from other manufacturers, if approved by Health Canada, are expected in the second quarter of 2021.

“So, we expect there’ll be a good lot of people who will be immunized by the summer, and through the fall next year, but by the end of the year, anybody who wants vaccine in B.C. and in Canada should have it available to them and should be immunized.”

Vancouver Coastal Health’s Dr. Ross Brown, heading the province’s vaccine program, and B.C. Centre of Disease Control experts have participated in a “table top” exercise with provincial and federal counterparts to walk through how to facilitate vaccine delivery and anticipate challenges or roadblocks, said Henry.

The vaccines will first be given to people who are most at risk from severe illness, and to health-care workers.

“We know that we will have limited amount at first, so we won’t be able to broadly achieve what we’ve been calling community immunity, or herd immunity, right off the bat, but that will come,” said Henry. “Our first priority will be to make sure that we’re protecting those who are most at risk. We know that this our seniors and elders in our communities, and long-term care homes in particular, and in hospitals, here in British Columbia.”

There are 56 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living homes — involving 958 residents and 559 staff — and eight in acute care.

Health orders ban social gatherings, require masks in public spaces and ask residents to stop all non-essential travel. There are also new restrictions on adult team sports and contact in sport for kids, on top of an existing ban on all indoor high-intensity fitness activities.

In the past few weeks, 10 to 15 per cent of new COVID-19 cases have been related to physical fitness and sport activities, said Henry.

Asked about delays in posting of new orders after they are announced, Henry said last-minute changes are sometimes needed in wording for legal reasons, and she asked people to be guided by the “intent of the orders.”

In B.C., 35,422 people have been infected with COVID-19 and 24,928 have recovered.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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Alberta confirms 643 new cases of COVID-19, 12 new deaths – 660 News

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EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – Alberta has confirmed 643 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 additional deaths linked to the virus.

Of the 12 new deaths, five were from the Edmonton Zone, three were from the Calgary Zone, three were from the Central Zone, and one was from the North Zone.

All 12 of the deaths had additional health issues.

There have now been 1,512 deaths linked to the virus in Alberta.

Currently, there are 9,987 active cases in the province, 691 of which are in hospital and 115 in ICU.

A total of 97,785 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.

The province’s positivity rate sits at 4.9 per cent.

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Provinces doing 'extraordinary' job to avoid wasting doses of COVID-19 vaccine – CollingwoodToday

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to calm anxieties over COVID-19 vaccines Friday by reporting that the CEO of Pfizer is promising Canada’s deliveries will be fully restored in three weeks.

Trudeau spoke to Albert Bourla by phone Thursday evening, a week after the company informed Canada its deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines were going to be drastically cut over the next month while the company expands its production facility in Belgium.

“The next few weeks will be challenging when it comes to deliveries,” Trudeau said Friday.

“That said, Dr. Bourla assured me that hundreds of thousands of Pfizer doses will be delivered the week of Feb. 15 and in the weeks to follow.”

Canada is getting only one-third of its promised doses between Jan. 18 and Feb. 7, including none next week. Deliveries the week of Feb. 8 aren’t yet confirmed.

Trudeau said Canada will be caught up to its delivery schedule by the end of March, with all four million promised doses delivered by then.

He said there will be enough delivered from Moderna and Pfizer by September to vaccinate all Canadians who want it.

“We’re working around the clock to get as many vaccines as we can, as fast as we can,” he said. “It’s what I’m thinking about when I wake up, when I go to bed, and every hour in between.”

Gary Kobinger, a vaccine expert and director of the Research Centre on Infectious Diseases at Université Laval in Quebec City, said this week if we can get half the population immunized against COVID-19, it will start to have a real impact on the pandemic, but the magic number to see the spread start to plummet is 70 per cent.

With the two vaccines it has approved, and the delivery schedules promised from Pfizer and Moderna, Canada won’t get enough doses to get to 50 per cent until after Canada Day. Children have also not yet been approved to get any vaccine, with trials on kids as young 12 underway now, and those as young as five expected to start in the spring.

Ashleigh Tuite, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, said the month-long delay in doses isn’t going to affect herd immunity because Canada wasn’t going to be anywhere near herd immunity by the middle of February even on the original vaccine delivery schedule.

But she said on an individual level, delaying the vaccination of highly vulnerable people can have an impact, particularly at a time when we have record numbers of cases and “raging epidemics” in long-term care homes. 

“If you delay the time that it takes for the vaccines to get into those people’s arms, you’re delaying the ability to protect those people from getting infected and from having bad outcomes,” she said. “So it does have an impact.”

While COVID-19 can cause severe illness in anybody, the risks to people over the age of 60 are far greater overall. Health Canada reports that as of mid-January, people over the age of 60 account for about one-fifth of the total cases of COVID-19, but almost three-quarters of all hospitalizations, two-thirds of admissions to intensive care, and 96 per cent of deaths.

In Ontario alone since Jan. 1, 550 long-term care residents and two workers have died of COVID-19. There are 252 ongoing outbreaks in long-term care homes in Ontario, and 164 outbreaks in retirement residences.

Fears about future delivery delays grew Friday, when AstraZeneca warned European nations initial deliveries of its vaccine would be smaller than expected because of production issues.

Johnson & Johnson warned officials in the United States that it was about two months behind schedule producing doses of its vaccine.

Both companies have applied for approval of their vaccines in Canada but are still in the midst of final clinical trials and the reviews are not complete. It’s expected both could be approved for use here by early spring.

Health Canada did say this week that provincial vaccine workers were doing an “extraordinary” job preventing many doses of precious COVID-19 vaccine from going to waste.

Canada has received more than 1.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna since mid-December, and has now given at least one dose to more than 767,000 people.

A spokeswoman says “wastage has been very minimal” and well below initial estimates.

Before the vaccination campaign began, there were concerns that as many as one-fifth of the doses delivered to Canada could end up being wasted due to intense cold-chain requirements and the complexity of distribution.

The federal department did not provide statistics but said provinces and territories are reporting their experiences and waste has not been a notable problem thus far. 

Both vaccines have to be kept frozen, but the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is particularly delicate and must be stored at temperatures below -60 C until just before it is used.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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COVID-19 outbreak over at Delta long-term care facility, says Fraser Health – Peace Arch News – Peace Arch News

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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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