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Toronto reports Canada's first known case of COVID-19 variant first seen in Brazil – CTV Toronto

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TORONTO —
Canada’s first known case of the coronavirus variant first detected in Brazil has been reported in Toronto.

Toronto Public Health (TPH) confirmed the case in a news release issued on Sunday afternoon. TPH said a resident who travelled from Brazil tested positive for the P.1 variant and is now in hospital.

The local public health unit also reported the city’s first case of the South African variant, known as B.1.351, in a Toronto resident with no recent travel history and no known contact with anyone who is a returned traveller.

TPH is investigating a total of 27 confirmed variant of concern cases as of Saturday.

“Scientists and medical professionals are concerned that these variants are more transmissible than the original coronavirus,” TPH said in a statement.

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) has indicated that research is ongoing to determine more about these variants to better understand how easily they might be transmitted and the effectiveness of currently authorized vaccines against them.”

There are now two cases of the South African variant confirmed in the province. Last week, health officials reported that the variant was detected in a man in Mississauga. Officials said the case had no known connection to travel and that it was likely acquired in the community.

Additionally, there are 174 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, in the province. Ontario modellers had said that the B.1.1.7 variant will become the dominant strain in the province by March.

According to a report from Public Health Ontario released last week, more than five percent of Ontario’s COVID-19 cases on Jan. 20 were from variants of concern.

Of the 1,880 positive samples from that day that were analyzed, 103, or 5.5 per cent, were confirmed or highly likely to be either the UK B.1.1.7 or South African B.1.353 variants of concern.

Public Health Ontario ramped up capacity to screen all positive COVID-19 tests for known variants last week as part of the Ontario government’s six-part plan to tackle the emergence of variants. Mandatory testing for all international travellers arriving at Pearson airport also began last week.

Speaking to CP24 Sunday evening, infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said the new cases of the South African and Brazil variants are concerning.

“Both of those variants of concern really raise a red flag, and the reason being is that the vaccines don’t have the same degree of efficacy against those variants as they would, for example, against something like the variant discovered in the United Kingdom,” said Bogoch, who is also part of the province’s vaccine distribution task force.

While there are still many unanswered questions about the Brazil variant, he said that its mutations are “somewhat analogous” to B.1.351. This is worrying, Bogoch noted, because some studies have found that some vaccines may be less effective against the South African variant.

On Sunday, South Africa halted its Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine rollout after early trial data found that it appeared to offer only limited protection against mild disease caused by B.1.351. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has not been approved for use in Canada.

“It’s important to note that those vaccines, based on the data that we have available, they still prevent severe illness, they still prevent death, but they don’t have the same level of protection that they would against non-variant strains of COVID-19,” Bogoch said.

“We don’t have all the answers. It’s extremely important to proceed with caution.”

Despite the threat posed by COVID-19 variants, the province will reportedly announce this week the gradual reopening of the economy in some areas while extending the stay-at-home order in other regions.

Bogoch hopes officials take a cautious approach in reopening Ontario because he said these variants are the “real deal.”

“We know what these variants of concern can do. I know sometimes you might hear people, for lack of a better word, sweep it under the rug and maybe tone down how important they are,” he said. “They are important.”

The doctor said a third wave is preventable as long as cases continue to head in the right direction and better vaccine coverage is put in place.

“We have to have plans in place that even if there is a slow and careful reopening that we’re not going to see a rise in cases,” Bogoch said.

“There’s no reason to have a third wave at all, so let’s do the right thing. Let’s keep those case numbers going down.”

– with files from Chris Herhalt, The Canadian Press, The Associated Press, Reuters

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Canada approves AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine – Global News

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Canada approved OxfordAstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine on Friday, making it the third shot officially authorized in the country.

The approval by Health Canada follows that of Pfizer and Moderna, both of which also require two doses.

The AstraZeneca shot is less effective in clinical trials than its rivals’ injections — 62 per cent versus high 90s — but offers distinct benefits.

Read more:
AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines — where is Canada at on approvals?

One major advantage is in logistics. The shot can be stored and transported at normal refrigerated temperatures, unlike its leading mRNA-based competitors, which require ultra-cold storage.

The authorization sets in motion an agreement for up to 20 million vaccine doses to gradually funnel into Canada, though Canada is not expecting to receive the shots until at least the second quarter of this year.

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The delivery schedule for those doses is expected to be confirmed after the vaccine is approved. However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier this month he believes most of those 20 million doses will be delivered before Canada Day.

Canada will also receive up to 1.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX by the end of June.

With Pfizer and Moderna, the first doses were administered within days of Health Canada approval.


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Concerns about Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for seniors


Concerns about Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for seniors – Feb 5, 2021

Approval slowed

Health Canada has said the vaccine has been “a bit complicated” to review.

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One of the reasons is because of a mix-up in how big the doses were during the clinical trials. Some volunteers only received a half dose at first, according to Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser.

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The age of the trial participants also made it difficult to finalize the rules for how the vaccine is to be used and on whom.

Read more:
AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and the ‘seniors’ question

The first two phases of AstraZeneca’s trials did not include people over the age of 65. As a result, many European countries have only authorized it for use on people younger than 65.

Health Canada has approved the shot for all adults — anyone 18 years and older.

Studies point to benefits

More recent studies suggest the shot could offer a number of significant benefits. Preliminary findings from Oxford University, co-developer of the vaccine, hint that it may also reduce transmission of the virus and offers strong protection for three months on just a single dose.

So far, makers of all vaccines have said that their shots proved to be highly effective in protecting people from illness caused by the virus, but it was unclear whether the drugs could also suppress transmission of the virus.


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Two more COVID-19 vaccine candidates release promising results


Two more COVID-19 vaccine candidates release promising results – Jan 29, 2021

It may also be a strong contender in the protection against COVID-19 variants, particularly the B.1.1.7 variant.

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The companies have said that its vaccine has similar efficacy against the variant, which first began circulating in the U.K. but has since made a mark on Canada, particularly in Ontario and Alberta.

However, preliminary data suggests the vaccine offers only “minimal protection against mild or moderate disease” from the B.1.351 variant. This variant was first found in South Africa and is now the dominant form of the coronavirus in that country. The findings caused the country to halt use of the product earlier this month.

Read more:
WHO lists AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use, widening access to countries in need

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, has drawn skepticism from Canadian experts, who say it’s too premature to come to any conclusions.

Oxford University, co-developer of the vaccine, has said its researchers were in the process of tweaking their product to better protect against the variant.

European issues

AstraZeneca’s vaccine is also mired in some political controversy.

A bitter dispute between the drugmaker and the European Union has stirred threats of export controls that could block shipments to non-EU countries, like Canada.

Recently, the company has become embroiled in supply issues with the EU. It was initially reported the drugmaker would not be able to fulfill its second-quarter supply commitment to the EU due to production issues. However, the company later backtracked and insists the promise will be kept.

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WHO gives emergency use authorization to 2 versions of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine


WHO gives emergency use authorization to 2 versions of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine – Feb 15, 2021

Canada is set to get its vaccines from factories in Europe.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has maintained that the possible measures from the EU would not hamper Canada’s agreements on deliveries. The threat has so far not impacted deliveries from Canada’s other approved vaccines, such as Moderna.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has already been approved in several countries, including the U.K. and the EU. The World Health Organization also gave the shot its approval this month, allowing vaccinations to begin in developing countries.

From a global standpoint, its low cost is also a major advantage. It runs about $4 USD ($5 CAD) per dose.

AstraZeneca, which says it aims to manufacture up to three billion doses in 2021, has pledged to make their product available at cost around the world until at least July.

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— with files from Reuters and the Canadian Press

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

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In a Flash, U.S. Yields Hit 1.6%, Wreaking Havoc in Markets – Yahoo Canada Finance

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GlobeNewswire

Just Energy Reports Fiscal Third Quarter 2021 Results

Continues to Assess Impact of the Texas Extreme Cold Weather Event TORONTO, Feb. 26, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Just Energy Group Inc. (“Just Energy” or the “Company”) (TSX:JE; NYSE:JE), a retail energy provider specializing in electricity and natural gas commodities and bringing energy efficient solutions and renewable energy options to customers and carbon offsets, announced its third quarter results for fiscal year 2021 and updated its previous announcement advising that management is continuing to assess the impact of the extreme cold weather experienced in the State of Texas commencing on or about February 13, 2021 continuing through February 19, 2021 (the “Weather Event”). The Weather Event resulted in the Company having to balance its power supply through the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) at artificially mandated high electricity prices and significantly increased ancillary service costs as described in the Company’s Management Discussion and Analysis filed today. As at February 22, 2021, the Company reviewed the available information regarding the Company’s customer load for the Weather Event and estimated that the Company may have incurred a loss of CAD $315 million (approximately USD $250 million). This week, the Company received initial settlement statements from ERCOT, which are subject to resettlements, that may be material, showing lower customer load. The initial statements from ERCOT, without any resettlement, would result in significantly lowering the Company’s exposure to approximately CAD $50 million (approximately USD $40 million). Given the material differences between the load information, the Company continues to investigate the differences in load information. Under normal ERCOT protocols resettlements occur 55 days after the operating day. However, ERCOT has indicated that it may resettle earlier. The total financial impact may materially change due to ERCOT final settlement data as it becomes available, any government or regulatory actions or potential litigation with respect thereto, failure of other parties to pay amounts owing to ERCOT and the impact of customer credit losses. “Regardless of uncertainty created by the Weather Event, our customers of Just Energy, Amigo Energy, Hudson Energy and Tara Energy can be certain that we are committed to doing all we can to be there for them in this extraordinary time. If you have a residential or small business fixed rate plan, our customers can rest assured that your fixed energy rate is locked in for the duration of your contracted term. Variable rate (month-to-month) residential customers will not see their rates impacted by the high settlement prices of the Weather Event,” said Scott Gahn, Just Energy’s President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Gahn added, “We are also focused on supporting our partners and dedicated employees through this extraordinary event.” Third Quarter Developments Base EBITDA increased by 47% to $55.8 million in the third quarter of fiscal year 2021 compared to $38.0 million in the year ago period, primarily driven by lower bad debt and lower expenses offsetting the lower Base gross margin and increased investment in digital marketing.Base gross margin was $131.6 million in the third quarter of fiscal year 2021, an 8% decrease as compared to $142.5 million in the year ago period. Bad debt expense decreased by 83% to $3.4 million in the third quarter of fiscal year 2021 compared to $20.0 million in the year ago period, with lower expenses in all areas.The Company ended the quarter with $91.2 million of total liquidity available, comprised of cash and cash equivalents of $66.6 million and available borrowing capacity of $24.6 million under the senior secured credit facility.Loss from continuing operations of $52.3 million in the third quarter, inclusive of $71.6 million of unrealized losses of derivative instruments and other. Fiscal Third Quarter Financial Highlights: As of December 31, 2020 $ in thousands, except customer dataFiscal 2021Fiscal 2020ChangeSales$540,067 $658,521 -18%Base gross margin1$131,608 $142,484 -8%Base EBITDA2$55,785 $37,950 47%Unlevered free cash flow (Year to date)$27,813 $49,892 -44%Total liquidity$91,200 $56,960 60%Total net consumer (RCE) additions (18,000) (33,000)NMF3Total net commercial (RCE) additions (105,000) 48,000 NMF3 1 “Base gross margin” represents gross margin adjusted to include the effect of applying IFRS Interpretation Committee Agenda Decision 11, Physical Settlement of Contracts to Buy or Sell a Non-Financial Item, for realized gains (losses) on derivative instruments and other. Base gross margin is a key measure used by management to assess performance and allocate resources. Management believes that these realized gains (losses) on derivative instruments reflect the long-term financial performance of Just Energy and thus has included them in the Base gross margin calculation.2See “Non-IFRS financial measures”3 Not a meaningful figure. Sales: Decrease due to the smaller customer base resulting from the shift in focus to the Company’s strategy to increase the credit quality of customers and to onboard higher quality customers; a reduction in customers in Ontario, New York and California due to regulatory restrictions; selling constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic; as well as prior competitive pressures on pricing in the United States.Base gross margin: Decrease was primarily driven by a decline in the customer base, partially offset by higher realized margins across several markets.Base EBITDA: Increase was primarily driven by a reduction in bad debt expense and lower expenses, partially offset by lower Base gross margin and increased investment in digital marketing.Unlevered free cash flow: Decrease was primarily driven by the additional transaction costs incurred for the Recapitalization and payments to decrease commodity and supplier payables. Expense Detail: ($ thousands)Fiscal 2021Fiscal 2020ChangeAdministrative expenses1$30,408$39,616-23%Selling commission expenses$30,485$36,698-17%Selling non-commission and marketing expense$11,784$14,572-19%Bad debt expense$3,358$19,996-83%1 Includes $1.6 million and $4.2 million of Strategic Review costs for the third quarter of fiscal 2021 and 2020, respectively. Administrative expenses: Decline was primarily driven by savings from the Canadian emergency wage subsidy and a reduction of expense related to the Strategic Review. Excluding expenses related to the Strategic Review, Administrative expenses decreased by 19% to $28.8 million for the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to $35.4 million for the three months ended December 31, 2019 due to savings from the Canadian emergency wage subsidy and savings from cost containment efforts.Selling commission expenses: Decrease was driven by lower commission expenses from lower sales from direct in-person channels driven by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lower customer additions in prior periods.Selling non-commission and marketing expenses: Decline was a result of cost reductions from the shut-down of the internal door-to-door sales channel and continued focus on cost containment, partially offset by increased investment in digital marketing. Bad debt expense: Decrease was a result of enhanced operating controls and operational processes implemented in the summer of 2019 and release of previous credit reserves as the Company continues to see consistent payment trends and minimal impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumer Segment Performance Consumer Operating Highlights: Fiscal 2021Fiscal 2020ChangeConsumer gross margin on added/renewed$303/RCE$273/RCE11%Embedded gross margin1 ($ millions)$1,023$1,271-20%Total gross (RCE) additions42,00055,000-24%Attrition (trailing 12 months)23%25%-8%Renewals (trailing 12 months)80%72%11%1See “Non-IFRS financial measures” Average Consumer gross margin per RCE for the customers added or renewed: The increase in the average gross margin on Consumer customers added and renewed was a result of the Company’s increased focus on profitable customer growth.Consumer embedded gross margin: The decline resulted from the decrease in the Consumer customer base and unfavourable exchange rate fluctuations.Consumer RCE additions: The decrease in customer additions was driven by selling constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the direct in-person channels offset by increases in digital sales channel. However, Consumer RCE additions increased by 24% from the three months ended September 30, 2020 due to increases in the digital and continued improvement in the retail sales channel.Consumer attrition rate: The improvements in attrition reflect the benefits of focus on sales to higher quality customers and increased focus on the customer experience.Consumer renewal rate: The increase was driven by improved retention offerings and increased focus on the customer experience. Consumer RCE Summary: CONSUMER10/1/2020AdditionsAttritionFailed to renew12/31/2020Change12/31/2019ChangeGas285,0001,000-8,000-3,000275,000-4%343,000-20%Electricity820,00041,000-36,000-13,000812,000-1%896,000-9%Total Consumer RCEs1,105,00042,000-44,000-16,0001,087,000-2%1,239,000-12% Commercial Segment Performance Commercial Operating Highlights: Fiscal 2021Fiscal 2020ChangeCommercial gross margin on added/renewed$70/RCE$65/RCE8%Embedded gross margin1($ millions)$360$569-37%Total gross commercial (RCE) additions41,000165,000-75%Attrition (trailing 12 months)11%9%22%Renewals (trailing 12 months)49%54%-9% 1See “Non-IFRS financial measures Average Commercial gross margin per RCE for the customers added or renewed: The increase was due to adding and renewing a larger proportion of lower usage, higher margin Commercial customers.Commercial embedded gross margin: The decline resulted from the decrease in the Commercial customer base and unfavourable exchange rate fluctuations.Commercial RCE additions: The decrease is primarily due to the selling constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the prior competitive pressures on pricing in the U.S. market. Commercial RCE additions increased by 46% from a low of 28,000 RCE additions for the three months ended June 30, 2020.Commercial attrition rate: The increase reflects a very competitive pricing market for commercial customers.Commercial renewal rate: The decrease reflects a competitive market with competitors pricing aggressively and Just Energy’s focus on retaining longer-term, profitable customers rather than pursuing low margin sales. Commercial RCE Summary: COMMERCIAL10/1/2020AdditionsAttritionFailed to renew12/31/2020Change12/31/2019ChangeGas407,000–11,000-10,000386,000-5%448,000-14%Electricity1,574,00041,000-62,000-63,0001,490,000-5%1,828,000-18%Total Commercial RCEs1,981,00041,000-73,000-73,0001,876,000-5%2,276,000-18% Outlook As previously announced, the Company is withdrawing its Base EBITDA and unlevered free cash flow guidance for fiscal 2021 and is continuing to assess the financial impact of the Weather Event. As of the time of this press release, the Company estimates that the financial impact of the Weather Event on the Company could be a loss of between $50 million and $315 million. The total financial impact may materially change due to ERCOT final settlement data as it becomes available, any government or regulatory actions or potential litigation with respect thereto, failure of other parties to pay amounts owing to ERCOT and impacts of customer credit losses. The estimated substantial losses could be materially adverse to the Company’s liquidity and its ability to continue as a going concern. The Company is in discussions with its key stakeholders regarding the impact of the Weather Event and will provide an update as appropriate. About Just Energy Group Inc. Just Energy is a retail energy provider specializing in electricity and natural gas commodities and bringing energy efficient solutions and renewable energy options to customers. Currently operating in the United States and Canada, Just Energy serves residential and commercial customers. Just Energy is the parent company of Amigo Energy, Filter Group Inc., Hudson Energy, Interactive Energy Group, Tara Energy, and terrapass. Visit https://investors.justenergy.com/ to learn more. FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS This press release may contain forward-looking statements. These statements are based on current expectations that involve several risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ from those anticipated. These risks include, but are not limited to, risks with respect to the financial impact of the Weather Event on the Company, the potential for government or regulatory action or litigation, the quantum of the financial loss to the Company from the Weather Event and its impact on the Company’s liquidity, the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern, the Company’s discussions with key stakeholders regarding the Weather Event and the outcome thereof, the impact of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic on the Company’s business, operations and sales; reliance on suppliers; uncertainties relating to the ultimate spread, severity and duration of COVID-19 and related adverse effects on the economies and financial markets of countries in which the Company operates; the ability of the Company to successfully implement its business continuity plans with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic; the Company’s ability to access sufficient capital to provide liquidity to manage its cash flow requirements; general economic, business and market conditions; the ability of management to execute its business plan; levels of customer natural gas and electricity consumption; extreme weather conditions; rates of customer additions and renewals; customer credit risk; rates of customer attrition; fluctuations in natural gas and electricity prices; interest and exchange rates; actions taken by governmental authorities including energy marketing regulation; increases in taxes and changes in government regulations and incentive programs; changes in regulatory regimes; results of litigation and decisions by regulatory authorities; competition; dependence on certain suppliers. Additional information on these and other factors that could affect Just Energy’s operations or financial results are included in Just Energy’s annual information form and other reports on file with Canadian securities regulatory authorities which can be accessed through the SEDAR website at www.sedar.com on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s website at www.sec.gov or through Just Energy’s website at www.justenergygroup.com. NON-IFRS MEASURES The financial measures such as “EBITDA”, “Base EBITDA, “Base gross margin”, “Free cash flow” “Unlevered free cash flow” and “Embedded gross margin” do not have a standardized meaning prescribed by International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”) and may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies. This financial measure should not be considered as an alternative to, or more meaningful than, net income (loss), cash flow from operating activities and other measures of financial performance as determined in accordance with IFRS, but the Company believes that these measures are useful in providing relative operational profitability of the Company’s business. Please refer to “Key Terms” in the Just Energy Q3 Fiscal 2021’s Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the Company’s definition of “EBITDA” and other non-IFRS measures. Neither the Toronto Stock Exchange nor the New York Stock Exchange has approved nor disapproved of the information contained herein. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: Michael CarterChief Financial OfficerJust Energymcarter@justenergy.com or InvestorsMichael CummingsAlpha IRPhone: (617) 982-0475JE@alpha-ir.com MediaBoyd ErmanLongview CommunicationsPhone: 416-523-5885berman@longviewcomms.ca Source: Just Energy Group Inc. Supplemental Tables: Financial and operating highlightsFor the three months ended December 31. (thousands of dollars, except where indicated and per share amounts) Fiscal 2021 Change Fiscal 2020Sales$540,067 (18)% $658,521 Base gross margin1 131,608 (8)% 142,484 Administrative expenses2 30,408 (23)% 39,616 Selling commission expenses 30,485 (17)% 36,698 Selling non-commission and marketing expense 11,784 (19)% 14,572 Bad debt expense 3,358 (83)% 19,996 Finance costs 17,677 (37)% 28,178 Profit (loss) from continuing operations (52,327) NMF3 20,601 Base EBITDA1 55,785 47% 37,950 Total gross consumer (RCE) additions 42,000 (24)% 55,000 Total gross commercial (RCE) additions 41,000 (75)% 165,000 Total net consumer (RCE) additions (18,000) NMF3 (33,000)Total net commercial (RCE) additions (105,000) NMF3 48,000 See “Non-IFRS financial measures” on page 6 of the MD&A.2 Includes $1.6 million and $4.2 million of Strategic Review costs for the third quarter of fiscal 2021 and 2020, respectively.3 Not a meaningful figure. 4 Profit (loss) includes the impact of unrealized gains (losses), which represents the mark to market of future commodity supply acquired to cover future customer demand as well as weather hedge contracts entered into as part of the Company’s risk management practice. The supply has been sold to customers at fixed prices, minimizing any realizable impact of mark to market gains and losses. Balance sheet (thousands of dollars) As at As at As at 12/31/2020 3/31/2020 12/31/2019Assets: Cash$66,635 $26,093 $17,988Trade and other receivables, net 344,080 403,907 404,124Total fair value of derivative financial assets 49,267 65,145 121,363Other current assets 143,145 203,270 140,923Total assets 1,069,042 1,215,833 1,294,205 Liabilities: Trade payables and other$472,763 $685,665 $523,650Total fair value of derivative financial liabilities 246,495 189,706 199,731Total long-term debt 518,768 782,003 774,600Total liabilities 1,284,778 1,711,121 1,559,955 Summary of Cash Flows For the nine months ended December 31. (thousands of dollars) Fiscal 2021 Fiscal 2020 Operating activities$(11,030) $8,135 Investing activities (3,353) (17,065)Financing activities, excluding dividends 61,820 42,570 Effect of foreign currency translation (6,895) (244)Increase in cash before dividends 40,542 33,396 Dividends (cash payments) – (25,335)Increase (decrease) in cash 40,542 8,061 Cash and cash equivalents – beginning of period 26,093 9,927 Cash and cash equivalents – end of period$66,635 $17,988

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COVID-19: More younger people dying in B.C.'s pandemic – Vancouver Sun

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Dr. Bonnie Henry said there had been three new deaths in people aged 30-39 over the past few weeks

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Three more people in their thirties have died of COVID-19 in B.C., two of them from the Cowichan Tribes outbreak on Vancouver Island.

On Thursday, the provincial health officer said COVID deaths were falling in long-term care homes, but rising among younger people.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said there had been three deaths in people aged 30-39 over the past few weeks. That adds to the four people in that age group who died in December, according to B.C. Centre for Disease Control data.

“We’ve seen hospitalizations in young people and we’ve seen, sadly and tragically, deaths in (three) young people in the last few weeks,” Henry said. “Some with underlying illnesses, and some who were Indigenous people and related to some of the outbreaks that we’re seeing.”

The Cowichan Tribes outbreak started in late December and there has been four deaths among hundreds of reported cases of COVID-19. The first death was in late January, followed by two deaths among young people reported between Feb. 8 and 16 and one death between Feb. 18 to 22.

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While those aged 80 to 89 have taken the deadly brunt of COVID-19, Henry said young people had suffered in other ways.

“I have said all along how struck I am by how challenging this pandemic has been for young people, especially for our teenagers and young adults, but also all the children who are seeing a strange new world,” Henry said.

There were 395 new cases of COVID-19 reported over the past day and 10 deaths.

Henry said 13 more cases of variants of concern had appeared, bringing that total to 116 in B.C., 95 of them the B117 type first identified in the U.K. No one with a detected variant case has died.

She said the spread of COVID-19 in B.C. was now driven mainly by workplace transmission.

Around 32,000 (or 40 per cent) of cases of COVID-19 in B.C. were transmitted in workplaces — including schools, daycares, ski resorts and food processing facilities, Henry said.

There had been an event at a pub that led to over 300 infections, including at a daycare, schools and a number of other workplaces.

This comes as the B.C. Teachers’ Federation released WorkSafeBC data showing in-school transmission claims for assistance were second in numbers only to claims from health-care workers.

The data showed that as of Feb. 19 there had been 123 claims made in the education sector with 1,781 made in the health sector. These sick claims go through WorkSafeBC because they were acquired at work.

There have been 110 claims made in the agricultural sector, 47 in hotel, restaurants and pubs and 38 made in retail operations.

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Henry said there were 4,489 active cases of the disease in B.C., of which 228 were being treated in hospital (including 62 in intensive care).

So far in B.C. 171,676 people have been vaccinated — including 68,157 who have been fully immunized with two doses. The province has administered 239,833 shots.

dcarrigg@postmedia.com


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