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'This isn't easy': B.C.'s premier shares Christmas message during COVID-19 pandemic – CTV News Vancouver

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VANCOUVER —
With COVID-19 cases still accumulating and the province under strict social restrictions over the holidays, there’s no question this Christmas is a unique one.

On Christmas Eve, B.C.’s premier shared a holiday message, highlighting how challenging celebrations might be for most this year. 

“Normally, Christmas is a time when people gather with friends and family, share food, exchange gifts and take part in the many traditions of the season,” Premier John Horgan’s message says.

“This year will look very different as we battle the second wave of COVID-19.”

On Dec. 7, Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, extended B.C.’s far-reaching social restrictions that limit gatherings among people who don’t live in the same household until at least Jan. 8. Few exceptions are in place for people who live alone.  

“This isn’t easy,” Horgan said. “Like you, I will miss spending time with my loved ones this holiday season. But for now, I am limiting my contacts and spending this time at home. The most important thing right now is to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

In his message, however, Horgan pointed to the hope of vaccines being distributed in the province. As of Thursday, 8,178 people had received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine so far in B.C. Health-care workers were first to receive a dose and immunization of long-term care residents is also underway. 

“This is not forever. With vaccines available, there is light at the end of this long, dark tunnel,” Horgan said. 

“There will be a time when we can all come together again, like we did before. Until then, let us remember the values of the Christmas season – charity, generosity and kindness – and do our level best to keep ourselves and others healthy and safe.” 

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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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COVID-19: Outbreaks reported at St. Paul's, Royal Columbian hospitals – Vancouver Sun

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Article content

Health officials have declared three COVID-19 outbreaks at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver and one at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster.

Providence Health Care said the three outbreaks are in separate units at St. Paul’s Hospital, and are not considered related.

The outbreaks are in 7C General Medicine, 6B Renal, and the 5A, 5B Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care units.

Providence says only rooms 5A, 5B at the Heart Centre are not accepting new patients or transfers because of the outbreak, but all other areas of the Heart Centre are open.

St. Paul’s Hospital remains open and is receiving patients who require urgent and emergent care. At this time, there is no impact on other areas of the hospital, say health officials.

Meantime, Fraser Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Royal Columbian Hospital Friday after evidence of transmission in a surgical unit.

Two patients at Royal Columbian Hospital have tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreak is limited to one unit, which is temporarily closed to admissions.

Fraser Health says it has stepped up cleaning and is conducting contact tracing. The emergency department at Royal Columbian Hospital remains open and there has been no impact to any other areas of the hospital, according to health officials.

Fraser Health says it has notified all patients on the affected unit about the outbreak.

ticrawford@postmedia.com

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