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Surgical, emergency patients should be tested for COVID-19, B.C. doctors and nurses say in letter – CTV News Vancouver



Testing patients for COVID-19 before their scheduled surgery and transfer to wards from emergency departments could reduce hospital outbreaks in British Columbia as cases rise, the results of a pilot project in the province’s largest health authority suggest.

Fraser Health said that out of 5,681 patients who were booked for surgery, 65 tested positive for the virus but had no symptoms and would not have warranted a test based on a screening questionnaire. Of 2,969 patients booked for elective surgery, 11 were infected with the virus but were asymptomatic.

“Unidentified COVID-19 cases can lead to transmission and contribute to outbreaks,” the health authority says about its enhanced testing in a memo to staff.

Testing began in mid-November over three weeks for surgical patients and four weeks for patients who had been in emergency rooms.

“The triggers that led to the evaluation were two or more COVID-19 outbreaks in acute care and a testing positivity rate greater than five per cent. Both of these conditions still exist within Fraser Health,” the memo says, adding the health authority has continued testing for the virus.

The positivity rate, or the percentage of all COVID-19 tests performed that show infection, was 9.6 per cent when testing began in Fraser Health and is now at eight per cent, data from the BC Centre for Disease Control show.

The Northern Health Authority’s positivity rate shot to 16 per cent from 0.5 per cent in October, according to the centre’s data, which also show the Interior Health region’s rate has risen to 8.3 per cent, from a low of 1.7 per cent in November.

In the Vancouver Coastal region, the positivity rate is 5.2 per cent, from a low of 0.4 per cent in June. The Vancouver Island health region’s positivity rate is the lowest in the province, at just under three per cent.

In November, more than 500 doctors and nurses across B.C. sent a letter to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix saying routine testing should be done at all acute-care centres because screening for symptoms was no longer sufficient in the second wave of the pandemic.

“Based on rising prevalence, we request an urgent reassessment of the issue of preoperative testing for surgical patients to ensure we prioritize the safety of our patients and maintain current levels of surgical productivity,” the letter says of the screening protocol put in place in May.

It says screening questionnaires don’t adequately identify risks for COVID-19 infection because they rely on patients to truthfully disclose all symptoms and some people arrive in hospital with symptoms, delaying surgery and putting others, including staff, at risk.

Henry said Monday that 10 facilities were currently experiencing outbreaks, affecting 1,364 residents and 669 staff.

They include two units at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, as well as the Cardiac Care Intensive Care Unit, all of which are closed to new admissions and transfers.

Henry acknowledged Monday that Fraser Health is testing patients because of its high positivity rate and that Northern Health “has had a very challenging few months.”

However, she suggested there is not a need for more widespread testing of patients before scheduled surgeries or admission to hospital from emergency departments.

Dr. Shannon Lockhart, a Vancouver anesthesiologist who is among the physicians who signed the letter to Henry and Dix, said physical distancing isn’t always possible in hospitals and there are multiple reasons why patients may not be able to wear a mask, especially when a breathing tube is removed after general anesthetic and they may cough, raising the risk of transmission.

Health-care workers who constantly put on and take off personal protective equipment over long shifts are prone to make mistakes, creating further risk, Lockhart said.

“These constraints increase the risk for infections to become super-spreading events as we’ve seen in some of the hospital outbreaks,” she said, adding recent studies from around the world show that surgical patients with COVID-19 are at greater risk of death.

Parts of Ontario and Nova Scotia require patients to be tested for COVID-19 several days before their scheduled surgery.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2021.

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First Leeds, Grenville, Lanark COVID-19 vaccines given to long-term care workers – Global News



The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health unit said long-term care workers were the first from the region to receive COVID-19 vaccines Thursday.

All COVID-19 vaccines for the southeastern Ontario region, which includes the LGLDH catchment area, are being distributed through Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), which received about 1,900 vaccinations on Monday. The first Kingston long-term care workers received vaccines Tuesday.

Read more:
Long-term care workers receive southeastern Ontario’s first COVID-19 vaccines

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark long-term care staff that received vaccines Thursday are part of the province’s goal to get all willing staff, residents and essential caregivers in long-term care homes and higher-risk retirement homes vaccinated by Feb. 15.

“The health care workers were excited and grateful to be getting the vaccine to help protect themselves and the residents in their care,” the health unit said.

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Mobile clinics run by the health unit will begin to visit local long-term care homes and higher-risk retirement homes over the next week.

“These mobile clinics will be delivered in partnership with our homes, Emergency Medical Services and healthcare partners who have offered to support COVID-19 vaccination distribution in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark,” the health unit said.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Trudeau says Pfizer delay won’t impact September COVID-19 vaccination goal'

Coronavirus: Trudeau says Pfizer delay won’t impact September COVID-19 vaccination goal

Coronavirus: Trudeau says Pfizer delay won’t impact September COVID-19 vaccination goal

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Daily COVID-19 vaccinations jump as more doses arrive in B.C. – North Shore News



COVID-19 vaccinations are on an upward trend once again following the arrival of more doses in B.C.

The province’s entire supply of the Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE vaccine was used up early in the week, leading to dips in the number of people being vaccinated on a daily basis.

There have been 69,746 vaccinations as of Thursday (January 14), up from the 63,430 reported a day earlier.

Just over 1,100 vaccinations were administered during the province’s previous 24-hour reporting period — much lower than the 6,315 vaccinations reported Thursday.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said about 25,000 additional doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have arrived since he last briefed media Wednesday.

“We’re expecting more Moderna vaccine before the end of the week and that allows us to continue across health authorities,” he said, adding workers and residents at long-term care homes remain the top priority.

The Moderna Inc. vaccine is easier to transport than the competing Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the latter of which must be maintained at temperatures as low as -80C before being thawed.

Once thawed, it must be administered within about five hours.

Those factors make Moderna more practical to bring to long-term care homes than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which initially was only administered at the manufacturer’s sites of delivery back in December before Pfizer loosened its restrictions.

More than 2.6 million doses of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna are expected to arrive in the province between April and June.

That’s up from the 792,000 doses due to be delivered between mid-December 2020 and March 2021.

The spring estimates do not include any vaccines that have not yet been approved by Health Canada.

For example, more doses could arrive in B.C. in the spring if regulators were to approve the AstraZeneca plc. vaccine, which was given the green light in the U.K. last month.

Vulnerable populations will be the focus of vaccinations between now and March but provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said more details will be forthcoming next week about plans to begin administering doses to the broader population.

“We’ve been thinking about this quite a lot,” Henry said.

“We know that we want to provide vaccine to people over the age of 18, who live in the communities, who aren’t in long-term care … How do we do that in a way that makes sure that everybody is in contact and knows where to go, doesn’t have to stand for hours in the rain as we’ve seen in some places, other places. So we are working on that. We have some great ideas that are coming together and we’ll be providing more data.”


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Vaccine arriving in Ottawa on Tuesday will go to those who have had first dose – Ottawa Citizen



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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the delay would not affect plans to have enough vaccines available for every Canadian who wanted to be vaccinated by fall.

Meanwhile, all residents in Ottawa’s long-term care homes have had the opportunity to be vaccinated — and that is cause for celebration, Etches said.

According to data from 24 of Ottawa’s 28 LTC homes, about 96 per cent of LTC residents have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, with data from the other four homes expected to follow.

“We are so pleased to have reached this milestone,” Etches said. “We still need the protection of staying two metres apart. That is what this lockdown is all about.”

Next on the priority list are residents of retirement homes and other older adults in congregate settings, older adults in Indigenous communities and people with chronic conditions receiving home care.

Etches says Ottawa’ is ready to get vaccines to people as soon as the doses are available. Retirement homes have already been preparing for the arrival of the vaccine by ensuring that consent forms have been signed, she said.

So far, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been available in Ottawa.

Etches said she has not received word on if or when the Moderna vaccine would be available in Ottawa. Moderna’s rollout has so far been prioritized for northern communities that do not have access to the specialized freezers needed to keep the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at -70 C. The Moderna vaccine is shipped at -20 C.

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