Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout hit its three-week mark this week, and while Phase 1 of distribution will likely extend for another three months, those eager for immunization may already be wondering when their turn will come — and how they’ll find out about it.
Dr. Maxwell Smith, a bioethicist at Western University and a member of Ontario’s COVID vaccine task force, says the province is still trying to figure out those questions.
The rest of the country seems to be in a similar boat, with few details set in stone from other provinces at this point.
Front-line health-care workers, long-term care staff and residents, and some Indigenous populations are among those scheduled to be inoculated during the first phase of the rollout, which began last month and is expected to stretch into March.
From there, the floor will start to open to more seniors, other essential workers both inside and outside the health-care realm, and those with medical conditions that might make them more at-risk of catching COVID.
Smith says there are two components to setting a vaccine timeline — determining which segment of the population should go next, and implementing ways to inform them when their turn is approaching.
Some countries, like Britain, are going by age, inoculating the eldest members of society first and working backwards from there. Smith says that could be seen as an unfair solution, however, if it doesn’t account for younger people with high-risk health conditions.
“We’re really trying at this point to use the best available data and information to identify which groups are at the highest risk of exposure and becoming severely ill or dying from COVID-19, and those working with those populations,” he said.
The logistical side of informing people when they’re next in line may differ from province to province, or from situation to situation, Smith says, and specific details have not been released.
Manitoba says on its website it will use daily “COVID bulletins to inform health-care workers and other Manitobans when they become eligible to be immunized, based on vaccine supply.”
Prince Edward Island’s website says it “will let Islanders know when they can get vaccinated and how they can make an appointment when that information is available.”
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease expert with the University of Toronto who’s also on Ontario’s vaccine task force, says plans are underway to iron out logistics of Phase 2.
As vaccine supply grows, Bogoch says rolling out the inoculation plan will get easier.
“It’s not going to be so centralized,” he said. “Vaccines are going to be offered in primary care clinics with your family physician, they’re going to be offered in pharmacies, in community centres, in public health clinics. … We’re just currently not at a place where we can do that due to the extremely limited supply.”
Horacio Bach, an adjunct professor of infectious diseases at UBC, says subsequent phases of a rollout will also get easier as more vaccines are approved.
One from Johnson & Johnson, which requires a single dose, has not yet been authorized by Health Canada but could be in the mix by the time Phase 2 begins. Bach says a single-dose vaccine would ease logistics.
“You will see, I’m sure, a percentage of people worldwide that need to get a second dose and they’re not going to get it,” he said. “And they’ll think ‘oh, I have the vaccine, it’s fine.’ And that is wrong.”
Experts say the hope is to have clear details soon on who is eligible for Phase 2 and how they’ll be notified.
Alberta Health Services has created an online immunization booking tool, but says it doesn’t expect vaccines to be available “to the general public” until Phase 3 of the province’s rollout in the fall. The website adds there is currently “no wait lists to join or applications for early immunization consideration.”
British Columbia, meanwhile, says it expects to inoculate anyone recommended to get a vaccine by the end of 2021. The provincial COVID website says a registration and record system, “including a process to register for vaccine access,” is being developed to help organize the process.
The federal government has said it expects to inoculate the majority of its residents by the fall, a timeline Smith believes is realistic as long as Canada receives the amount of dosages it’s expecting, and the country’s vaccine rollout is done efficiently.
“There’s so many uncertainties at this point,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to speculate about precisely when people will get vaccines.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 6, 2021
B.C. records another 465 COVID-19 cases, 12 deaths and 70 in ICU – Global News
British Columbia has recorded another 465 COVID-19 cases Tuesday bringing the provincial total to 61,912 since the pandemic began.
Another 12 people have died from complications with the virus, with the total number of deaths now standing at 1,090.
Two more people have been admitted to the ICU, meaning there are now 70 people in critical care in the province. There are 329 in hospital, which is down 14 from Monday.
In total, 55,099 people have recovered from the virus but there remain 4,331 active cases and 6,864 people in isolation.
B.C. officials report 1,330 new COVID-19 cases, 31 additional deaths over the weekend
Since Monday there have been 83 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 262 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 21 in the Island Health region, 61 in the Interior Health region, 32 in the Northern Health region and six new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.
To date, 92,369 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., the government confirmed Tuesday.
There are no new health-care facility outbreaks.
Over the weekend and on Monday, B.C. recorded 1,330 new cases of COVID-19 along with 31 more deaths.
However, from Sunday to Monday, B.C. reported 301 cases, which was the lowest single-day case number since Nov. 3, when 299 cases were recorded.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Coronavirus: Fitness industry frustrated City of Winnipeg employee gyms remain open – Globalnews.ca
Since November, gyms across Manitoba have been shut down for COVID-19 health protocols, but that hasn’t been the case for all fitness facilities.
Some City of Winnipeg employee gyms have remained open.
“Provincial health officials advised us that these facilities, used exclusively by City employees, could remain open. These facilities have guidelines in place to help maintain our employees’ health and safety,” a spokesperson for the city says.
“Among them, users are required to respect posted capacity limits and follow physical distancing guidelines of staying two metres/six feet apart.”
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin says the city didn’t need special permission to keep gyms open.
“Our public health orders don’t apply to any levels of government. So they don’t apply to federal, provincial or municipal governments. So I am aware of health inspectors having visited some of these gyms and have found them safe. They weren’t given an exception outside the order.
“The order doesn’t apply to governments.”
Global News confirmed facilities aren’t just open for first responders. Other employees have access as well.
But the city would not confirm exactly which employees have access or the reason why.
Mayor Brian Bowman declined an interview request for Tuesday but a statement from his office said “the Mayor has been advised by the public service that the operation of staff fitness facilities is in compliance with provincial public health orders.”
While the province announced on Tuesday potential expansions of the COVID-19 public health orders, the reopening of gyms isn’t on the list.
“Gyms, restaurants and organized recreation will be continued to be reviewed for further iterations,” Roussin said adding that indoor prolonged contact is a higher risk of transmission for COVID-19 compared to passing someone in a store.
Manitoba RCMP confirmed that all gyms in their headquarters and all detachments have been closed.
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Paul Taylor, the owner of Brickhouse Gyms in Winnipeg, says it’s hypocritical to allow city workers to access the gym but not allow others.
“We are operating under the premise that going to the gym is unhealthy for you at a time like this and puts you at undue risk for COVID-19 and what have you, but if it’s such a risky activity, why are we putting our police and front-line workers and city workers, why would we be exposing them to unnecessary danger?”
Brickhouse Gyms, like many other fitness facilities in the province, were following public health orders with social distancing and cleaning protocols in place in order to stay open but were forced close under the province’s level red restrictions that came into effect in November.
“We desperately want to be allowed to exist so we will do everything necessary and we won’t take the ability to open for granted,” he said.
Taylor’s gym has been closed for nearly six of the past 12 months and he says it’s a financial struggle.
“Just the hydro alone is easily $10,000 to $11,000 from this lockdown and I’m still making payments on the first lockdown. That’s $20,000 just in Manitoba Hydro that I owe them for the six months I was forced to be closed and couldn’t make a dime.”
Tips for heading back to the gym
In the province’s public health act, it says there are exceptions but “all indoor sporting or recreational facilities, including gyms and fitness facilities, must be closed while these Orders are in effect.”
The exceptions listed include professional hockey teams, or athletes who have been identified as Olympic or Paralympic competitors.
Stephanie Jeffrey is the executive director of the Manitoba Fitness Council, which represents about 1,000 fitness instructors in the province.
Jeffrey says she understands why some City of Winnipeg employees may need to keep up their physical workouts to do their jobs, but they aren’t the only ones.
“I think it’s really important to have some gyms open because there are some jobs — most jobs require a level of cardiovascular endurance as well as strength, and I would say more than others. I wouldn’t want to see them close, I think we should all be open.”
Jeffrey says she thinks there’s a balance that could be reached to help people de-stress with a workout and keep them safe with COVID-19 precautions in place.
“I think if we opened up like we did before, where we had capacity limits plus strict cleaning protocols, there were very few gyms fined during that time for not following those protocols and they will do whatever it takes to get back open and those who participate in those programs and go to those facilities are also willing to do whatever it takes to get themselves back,” Jeffrey said.
There’s still no word yet on when gyms will be allowed to reopen in the province, but the next public health order that goes into effect on Saturday runs at least three weeks long.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Manitoba mulls easing retail and gathering restrictions for all but northern region – CBC.ca
Many Manitobans could soon have a small number of friends and family over to their properties and shop for anything they want at a store after enduring two months of the toughest lockdown since the start of the pandemic.
The province released a range of options it’s considering for private gatherings and the reopening of stores for all regions except the hard-hit north.
“The actions and hard work and sacrifices of Manitobans has continued to make a difference,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer. “Overall our numbers are headed in a good direction, and that means that we can start looking at what a reopening might look like.”
The current household orders could be loosened to allow two additional people, family or friends, to visit a household, outdoor visits of up to five people in addition to members of the household on private property, and funerals up to 10 people, plus an officiant.
All stores could be allowed to re-open, as long as they maintain physical distancing and occupancy limits of 25 per cent up to a maximum of of 250 people. Eliminating the list of restricted non-essential items is also floated.
Non regulated-health services such as podiatrists and reflexologists, as well as personal services such as barber shops and hair stylists, could reopen as long as they also follow health precautions.
The relaxed orders, which are merely proposals at this point, could come into effect as soon as 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, when the current public health restrictions expire, and last three weeks.
Roussin stressed that the province is taking a “cautious approach,” saying that the more interactions people have, the more opportunity the virus that causes COVID-19 has to transmit. Manitoba case numbers began to increase sharply in late October and November, despite some health restrictions in place at the time, and Roussin said he doesn’t want to see that happen again.
“We don’t want to go back and forth. We want to have a slow cautious approach so that we can continue reopening over time and not have to go back and close certain things again.”
The proposed changes don’t include reopening businesses like restaurants or gyms. The reason stores are allowed to reopen, but not restaurants, is due to the fact people go in and out of stores without remaining in close contact for a long time, Roussin said.
“In restaurants, this is prolonged, indoor contact. So we know that this adds to the risk,” he said.
Winnipeg and several surrounding communities moved to the red level — the highest level on the province’s pandemic response system — on Nov. 2, and the rest of the province followed on Nov. 12.
Restrictions tightened further on Nov. 20, when the province reduced the number of household visitors allowed in most cases to zero and imposed an outright ban on the sale of non-essential items in stores.
The province says its options for relaxing restrictions were informed by a survey that received 67,500 responses between Friday and Monday. Manitobans are asked to provide feedback on on their preferences through the engagemb.ca website.
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