As COVID-19 variants continue to spread, there’s growing concern about the potential for school outbreaks.
It comes as people tested positive for the highly-transmissible UK COVID-19 variant at seven different schools in Surrey and Delta.
“Cases in schools mirror what’s happening in our community, so it was always a possibility we would see variants in schools,” B.C. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said at a media briefing Monday afternoon.
Fraser Health is now ramping up testing, including testing of people without symptoms. But health officials say that won’t be implemented province-wide.
“The recommendation is to not be tested if you don’t have symptoms because it doesn’t really change how you behave,” said Dr. Réka Gustafson, B.C.’s deputy provincial health officer.
In the Fraser Valley, contact tracing and rapid testing is now underway to try and identify any more cases of the variant.
Meanwhile on Vancouver Island, recent school exposures — like the one at Glanford Middle School in Saanich — have teachers calling on the province to do more to keep staff and students safe.
“Teachers are definitely concerned,” said Winona Waldron of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association. ‘They’re concerned that the new mask mandate doesn’t go far enough, they’re concerned that there’s not enough ventilation, they’re concerned that they cannot physically distance from students.”
Parents on Vancouver Island are also worried.
“I certainly am,” one mother told CHEK News. “They seem to be much more aggressive than the previous variants.”
“I’m just worried if my kids catch it, they’ll bring it home to my one-year-old daughter,” another mother said.
But despite mounting pressure to further increase mask policies in schools from both teachers and the opposition, the NDP government isn’t planning to make any changes.
“We have very robust health and safety plans in place and our experience has been, where safety plans are adhered to, we see very low transmission in schools,” Whiteside said.
456 new COVID-19 cases in BC, 2 deaths – Parksville Qualicum Beach News – Parksville Qualicum Beach News
There are 237 British Columbians battling COVID-19 in hospital, as the province recorded 456 new infections and two further deaths.
In a joint statement Wednesday (Feb. 23), provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said 64 of those in hospital are in intensive care.
Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C. A total of 1,338 people have died.
About 4,668 of those infections remain active, a vast majority recovering in self-isolation at home.
To date, 230,875 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. – 62,608 of which are second doses.
Henry and Dix recognized Pink Shirt Day, calling on British Columbians “to remind ourselves about the importance of compassion and kindness in the face” of the pandemic and all the challenges faced.
“Kindness is staying away from friends and family, it is offering thanks to the store clerk who reminds us to follow their safety plan, it is offering a smile – even behind our masks and assuming the best of everyone around us.”
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News Releases | Province Considers Changes to Public Health Orders, Seeks Feedback on Manitobans' Reopening Priorities – news.gov.mb.ca
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Manitoba reports lowest test positivity rate since October as 70 new COVID-19 cases announced – CBC.ca
Manitoba announced 70 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and reported its lowest test positivity rate in more than four months.
That rate dropped from 4.6 per cent to 4.3 Thursday — the lowest announced since Oct. 20, when it was at the same spot. Winnipeg’s rate dipped to 3.8 per cent from four a day earlier.
A man in his 70s from the Winnipeg health region died, bringing the province’s total number of coronavirus-linked deaths to 888.
Most of the new cases on Thursday are split between the Winnipeg health region, which has 31 cases, and the Northern Health Region, with 30, the province says in a news release.
There are seven new cases in the Interlake-Eastern health region and two in the Southern Health region, while the Prairie Mountain Health region reported no new infections.
No new cases of the more infectious B117 coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K. have been identified in Manitoba since one was announced on Tuesday, bringing the province’s total to five.
Strict public health orders on Pauingassi First Nation, about 280 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, have been lifted now that the risk of COVID-19 spreading in that community has stabilized, the release says.
The fly-in community of about 500 people brought in stay-at-home orders at the start of this month when nearly one in every four people there tested positive for the illness.
All Manitoba’s other public health orders are still in effect.
Vaccines doses received top 100K
The province has now received more than 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, according to its online dashboard.
Of the 102,360 doses, 69,060 — about two-thirds — have been administered, the dashboard says.
So far, 2.6 per cent of Manitobans over 18 have gotten both their shots, with 47,920 more immunizations planned over the next 28 days, the dashboard says.
There are now 196 COVID-19 patients in hospital in Manitoba, a drop of 11 since Wednesday. Twenty-six of those people are in intensive care, down by three.
Three previously announced COVID-19 cases were removed from Manitoba’s total on Thursday because of a data correction, the release says. That brings the number of cases identified in the province so far to 31,657.
Of those cases, 29,563 people are considered to have recovered from the illness, while 1,206 are still deemed active — a number health officials have said may be inflated by a data entry backlog.
There were 2,290 more COVID-19 tests done in Manitoba on Wednesday, bringing the total number of swabs completed in the province to 519,892 since early last February.
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