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Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on March 24, 2021 – Stockhouse

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The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create stress and anxiety for many Canadians, particularly those who do not have ready access to their regular support networks. Through the Wellness Together Canada online portal, people of all ages across the country can access immediate, free and confidential mental health and substance use supports, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

OTTAWA, ON , March 24, 2021 /CNW/ – Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) commemorates World Tuberculosis (TB) Day to raise awareness about the health, social and economic consequences of this disease and to acknowledge the broader impact of COVID-19 for people with TB, including disruptions to essential TB services. This year’s theme is “The Clock is Ticking” – it serves to remind us that time is of the essence if we are to meet commitments to end TB globally. While overall rates of TB are low in Canada , the disease continues to disproportionately affect those who are at risk because they may live in close quarters, experience barriers to health care or have fewer material resources. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened awareness about the health and social inequities that exist in Canada , and the need to address the social determinants of health that lead to health disparities. Despite the challenges facing us, Canadians have come together to respond to the COVID-19 crisis in new and innovative ways. Likewise, collaborative and cross-sectoral action centred on a health equity approach will help us reduce rates of TB in Canada , ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to achieve their best health and well-being now and into the future.

As 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. At the same time, the Public Health Agency of Canada is providing Canadians with regular updates on COVID-19 vaccines administered , vaccination coverage and ongoing monitoring of vaccine safety across the country. The following is the latest summary on national numbers and trends, and the actions we all need to be taking to reduce infection rates, while vaccination programs expand for the protection of all Canadians.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 942,320 cases of COVID-19, including 22,735 deaths reported in Canada ; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. They also tell us, together with results of serological studies, that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19 . As vaccine delivery ramps up at an accelerated pace, there is cause for optimism that widespread and lasting immunity can be achieved through COVID-19 vaccination. We now have multiple safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines with unique advantages that are authorised for use in Canada .

However, nationally, COVID-19 activity has levelled off at a high level since mid-February and average daily case counts are increasing. The latest national-level data show a seven-day average of 3,772 new cases daily ( March 17 to 23 ). Currently, there are 36,310 active cases across the country. While COVID-19 continues to impact people of all ages in Canada , infection rates are highest among those aged 20 to 39 years of age. Although severe illness is less common among young adults, it is important to remember that serious illness can occur at any age. In addition, circulation of COVID-19 in younger, more mobile and socially-connected adults presents an ongoing risk for spread into high-risk populations and settings. The emergence and spread of certain SARS-CoV-2 virus variants heightens this concern. As of March 23 , a total of 6,211 variants of concern have been reported across Canada , including 5,812 B.1.1.7 variants, 247 B.1.351 variants and 152 P.1 variants. Amid increasing case counts, shifting severity trends, and a rising proportion of cases involving variants of concern in heavily impacted areas of Canada we need to remain vigilant. Maintaining public health measures and individual precautions is crucial to reducing infection rates and avoiding further spread of new variants where accelerated epidemic growth can take off very quickly.

Nationally, declines in lagging indicators of COVID-19 severity are levelling off or increasing. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 2,146 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent seven-day period ( March 17 to 23 ), including 591 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 31 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.

While vaccine programs accelerate, it will be important to maintain a high degree of caution. Any easing of public health measures must be done slowly with enhanced testing, screening, and genomic analysis to detect variants of concern. In particular, there must be sufficient contact tracing capacity and supports for effective isolation, given increased transmissibility of variants of concern.

Canadians are urged to remain vigilant, continue following local public health advice, and consistently maintain individual practices that keep us and our families safer: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms , think about the risks and reduce non-essential activities and outings to a minimum, avoid all non-essential travel , and maintain individual protective practices of physical distancing , hand, cough and surface hygiene and wearing a well-fitted and properly worn face mask as appropriate (including in shared spaces, indoors or outdoors, with people from outside of your immediate household).

Aiming to have the fewest interactions with the fewest number of people , for the shortest time , at the greatest distance possible, while wearing the best-fitting mask is a simple rule that we can all apply to help limit the spread of COVID-19, as vaccine programs expand to protect all Canadians.

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, including information on COVID-19 vaccination .

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada

Cision View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/March2021/24/c5736.html

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Active COVID-19 infections in B.C. fall to nine-week low – The Tri-City News

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B.C. continues to face sufficient serious COVID-19 infections to worry health officials, but new data shows some good news: the number of known active infections in the province has fallen to a near-10-week low.

There are 4,888 people known to be infected with COVID-19 in B.C., with the vast majority being told to self-isolate at home. The last time there were fewer known active cases was on August 13, when 4,277 people were known to be infected, and the fourth wave of the pandemic was surging. 

Of those fighting infections, 370 are in hospitals, with 139 in intensive care units (ICUs).

Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry said yesterday that there are around 200 people in hospitals who are not included in that count, but are dealing with lingering health problems as a result of COVID-19.  

The province’s general rule for counting COVID-19 hospital patients is to limit the official number to those who are infectious, with that meaning those who have not yet gone 10 days after first feeling symptoms. Henry said this is not a hard and fast rule, and that some people could be included in that count up to 30 days after first feeling symptoms depending on the severity of their illness. 

Another six people died from COVID-19 overnight, raising the province’s death toll from the disease to 2,092, and underscoring the seriousness of getting infected. 

Health officials detected another 696 infections overnight, raising the number of those in B.C. known to have contracted the disease to 199,534.

Of those, more than 96.3%, or 192,189 people, are deemed by the province to have recovered because they have gone more than 10 days after first feeling symptoms, and are therefore considered to be not infectious. 

Vaccinations in the general population have slowed as the vast majority of people are already vaccinated.

Health officials administered initial vaccine doses to 2,787 people in the past day, as well as second doses of vaccine to 5,870 people. 

Across B.C., 89.3% of eligible adults older than 12 have had at least one dose of vaccine, with 83.6% of eligible people having had two doses, according to the B.C. government.

Of the 4,138,787 B.C. residents who have received one dose of vaccine since mid-December, 2020, 93.6%, or 3,876,579, are fully vaccinated, with two doses. Health Minister Adrian Dix said October 19 that about 60,000 residents, who are either immunocompromised or who live in seniors’ living facilities, have received three doses of vaccine.

The B.C. government estimated in July that the province’s total population is 5,147,712, so Glacier Media’s calculation is that 80.4% of B.C.’s total population has had at least one dose of vaccine, and 75.3% of the province’s total population has had two doses.

“We do track vaccine effectiveness, [and] hospitalization, as a measure of severe illness by what combination of vaccines people received,” Henry said October 19.

“What it does show us across the board, is that every combination is very effective at preventing severe illness. The AstraZeneca-AstraZeneca [combination] is slightly less than every other combination in terms of preventing infection, but if you go to AstraZeneca, and then in an mRNA vaccine, that protection goes back up again.” 

The small slice of the population that is not vaccinated is responsible for the lion’s share of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. 

Only 20 of the 139 people in ICUs are fully vaccinated, according to Dix.

When adjusted for age, in the week up to October 18, there were 294.3 people newly infected for each 100,000 unvaccinated British Columbians. In that same time period, there were only 86.9 people newly infected for each 100,000 partially vaccinated British Columbians, and only 32.1 people newly infected for each 100,000 fully vaccinated British Columbians. 

One new health-care facility outbreak has been detected at Swedish Assisted-Living Residence in Burnaby, raising the number of such outbreaks in the province to 24. •

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India celebrates 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses with song and dance

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 India celebrated the milestone of administering one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses on Thursday, with the government promoting the achievement in song and video even as a recent drop in inoculations worries healthcare providers.

After a slow beginning in the middle of January, India’s immunisation campaign has covered three-quarters of its 944 million adults with at least one dose but only 31% with two. The government wants all adults to get vaccinated this year.

“India scripts history,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter. “We are witnessing the triumph of Indian science, enterprise and collective spirit of (1.3 billion) Indians.”

Modi marked the occasion with a visit to a government hospital in New Delhi. The health ministry announced musical and other programmes across the country, and special illuminations of national monuments including a colonial-era jail.

Nearly 90% of the vaccines administered in India have come from the Serum Institute of India (SII), which produces a licensed version of the AstraZeneca drug. SII has more than tripled its capacity since April and can now produce 220 million vaccine doses a month.

SII has also slowly resumed exports for the first time since April, when the government stopped all overseas sales to meet domestic demand as infections rose dramatically.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which relies heavily on India for supplies to its global vaccine-sharing platform COVAX, congratulated the country for reaching the landmark.

“India’s progress must be viewed in the context of the country’s commendable commitment and efforts to ensure that these life-saving vaccines are accessible globally,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director WHO South-East Asia.

India has so far reported 34.1 million COVID-19 cases and more than 452,000 deaths, most during a second wave of infections of the Delta variant that surged through the country between April and May.

A “sizeable number https://www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-india/many-indians-skipping-second-covid-shot-despite-record-vaccine-stocks-idUSL4N2RF2G3” of people in India have not taken their second dose by the due date despite adequate supplies, the health ministry said on Tuesday, as new infections fell to their lowest since early March.

Daily shots have averaged 5 million this month, a fifth of September’s peak, though states are sitting on record stocks of more than 100 million as domestic output of the AstraZeneca vaccine soars.

Despite the current low number of infections, ministry officials have been urging people to get vaccinated fast, especially as the ongoing festival season means family gatherings and mass shopping, raising the risk of a new wave of infections.

(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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U.S. coronavirus vaccine donations reach 200 million doses

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The United States, under pressure to share its  coronavirus vaccine supply with the rest of the world, has now donated 200 million doses to more than 100 countries, the White House announced on Thursday.

President Joe Biden has faced some criticism from other world leaders for offering vaccine booster shots in the United States at a time when many people around the world have not received their first shot.

In recent weeks, the United States has stepped up its donations. Biden told Kenya PresidentUhuru Kenyatta last week https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/us-donates-17-million-jj-doses-african-union-2021-10-14 that the United States will make a one-time donation of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the African Union.

“As of today, the United States has successfully donated and delivered 200 million COVID-19 vaccines to more than 100 countries around the world,” the White House said in a statement to mark the milestone.

The statement said the United States and the international COVAX vaccine-sharing programme would follow through over the next year on commitments to donate more than 1 billion doses to needy countries.

“These vaccines will help save lives, protect livelihoods, and heal economies currently battered by this pandemic,” the White House said.

 

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Karishma Singh)

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