COVID-19 update for April 7: 997 new cases and two deaths in B.C. | 13 B.C. flights added to airline exposure list | Ontario issues four-week stay-at-home order

Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C.

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Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for April 7, 2021.

We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on in B.C. right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly throughout the day, with developments added as they happen.

Check back here for more updates throughout the day. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.


B.C.’S COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS

As of the latest figures given on April 7:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 106,985 (8,728 active including 266 variant cases)
• New cases since April 6: 997
• Total deaths: 1,491 (2 new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 330
• Intensive care: 105
• Total vaccinations: 858,592 people have received vaccine, including 87,504 who have received a second dose.
• Cases under public health monitoring: 14,602
• Recovered: 96,626
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 14

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IN-DEPTH:COVID-19: Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus


B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS

COVID-19: Here’s everything you need to know about the novel coronavirus

COVID-19 FAQ: What you need to know about the vaccine rollout in B.C.

COVID-19: Have you been exposed? Here are all B.C. public health alerts

COVID-19 at B.C. schools: Here are the school district exposure alerts

COVID-19: Avoid these hand sanitizers that are recalled in Canada

COVID-19: Here’s where to get tested in Metro Vancouver

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool


LATEST NEWS ON COVID-19 IN B.C.

8:15 p.m. – B.C. government spends $3 million on mental-health hub for workers in hard-hit sectors

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction will spend $3 million on a digital resource hub with a focus on helping workers in the tourism, hospitality and social services sector.

According to a government release, “The new hub provides workshops, webinars and information to help employees manage stress and build resiliency. It also provides tangible steps for workers at all levels to improve their overall mental health, as well as navigation support to connect to other mental health services, including counselling and peer support.”

In May 2021, the hub will expand to include a made-in-B.C. training and coaching platform that will provide managers and leaders in these sectors with personalized guidance to help make meaningful and lasting change at work.

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The link to the hub is here.

7:15 p.m. – High case counts have B.C. health minister bracing for impact on hospitals

Provincial hospitals are prepared to receive higher numbers of COVID-19 patients, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Wednesday, not that he is comfortable with the situation.

“We’re both prepared for it and very concerned about it,” Dix said, considering that B.C.’s experience is that five per cent of people who contract COVID-19 wind up in hospital. “Obviously, if we keep seeing high case loads, it’s just by definition, five per cent of 1,000 (cases in a day) is more than five per cent of 750, so we’ve got to be prepared and we will be prepared for more hospitalizations.”

Dix spoke Wednesday in response to the alarm raised by physicians about a discouraging increase in numbers of COVID-19 patients reaching their ICUs, which is beginning to stress the overall system.

On Wednesday, Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported that 330 COVID-19 patients were in hospital, an increase of two from Tuesday, with 105 in ICU, a jump of nine from Tuesday.

— Derrick Penner

7 p.m. – B.C. lagging behind in vaccines administered compared to overall supply

B.C. is lagging behind in administering all the COVID-19 vaccines in its supply, with only 73 per cent of doses sent by the federal government actually making it into people’s arms.

Provincial health officials have consistently said the pandemic is now a race between vaccine delivery and rapidly rising variants of concern, a race the variants seem to be winning.

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As of Thursday, B.C. administered 946,096 doses out of its total 1,289,060-dose supply, putting it ahead of most provinces and territories in Canada. According to data compiled through the COVID-19 vaccination tracker using official government sources, B.C. is only behind Saskatchewan, which has administered 82.2 per cent of its doses, and Northwest Territories, which is sitting at 74.8 per cent.

The largest gap between vaccines administered and vaccines received is in Manitoba at 54.6 per cent.

— Katie DeRosa

3 p.m. – B.C. has close to 20 per cent of eligible residents immunized, says Henry

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported 997 new cases of COVID-19 over the past day and two deaths.

She said there were 8,728 active cases of the disease (including 266 that are variants of concern) and that 330 people were in hospital. There are 105 people in intensive care.

With close to a million doses of vaccine now injected, Henry said B.C. had almost 20 per cent of its eligible population immunized.

“To date, 946,096 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-SII COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C., 87,504 of which are second doses. This is almost 20 per cent of those who are eligible for a vaccine in B.C.,” she said.

Henry said second doses of vaccine would be administered up to four months after the first, as per National Advisory Committee on Immunizations guidelines released on Wednesday.

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There has been 3,766 confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in B.C. This includes 2,837 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the U.K., 51 cases of the B.1.351 variant first identified in South Africa and 878 cases of the P.1 variant first identified in Brazil.

These variants are more contagious then the original coronavirus first identified in Dec. 2019.

—David Carrigg

1:30 p.m. – BCCDC issues exposure warnings for 13 flights

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has listed some more recent flights that had potential COVID-19 exposure.

The Centre added 13 flights to its exposure list on Wednesday.

The affected flights are:

• March 26: Air Canada/Jazz 8625, Winnipeg to Vancouver
• March 28: Air Canada 116, Vancouver to Toronto
• March 29: Air Canada/Jazz 8622, Vancouver to Winnipeg
• March 30: Air Canada 314, Vancouver to Montreal
• March 31: WestJet 129, Calgary to Vancouver
• March 31: WestJet 3287, Vancouver to Prince George
• March 31: WestJet 3387, Calgary to Kelowna
• April 1: WestJet 4444, Calgary to Kelowna
• April 2: Air Canada 45, Delhi to Vancouver
• April 2: Air Canada 123, Toronto to Vancouver
• April 2: Japan Airlines 18, Tokyo to Vancouver
• April 3: Air Canada 116, Vancouver to Toronto
• April 3: Air Canada 554, Vancouver to Los Angeles

For row information, visit the BCCDC’s full listing of all exposure flights here.

The centre says all passengers on a domestic flight with a COVID-19 case should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days, while all international passengers are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada.

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1 p.m. – Canada’s vaccine panel confirms choice to delay doses up to four months

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is standing by its emergency recommendation to extend timing of second doses of COVID-19 vaccines up to four months after the first, but says most Canadians will probably only wait half that long.

The panel is also keeping an eye on the latest reports, released Wednesday in Europe and the United Kingdom, on Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine and the risk of blood clots. NACI is awaiting further information from Health Canada before deciding if it needs to adjust its recommendation not to give AstraZeneca to people under 55.

“We made the decision out of an abundance of caution, while further investigations were ongoing,” said Dr. Shelley Deeks, the vice-chair of NACI. “So we will now look at the new data.”

Chair Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh said NACI should be ready to provide any updated recommendations in less than a month.

Canada has been using the AstraZeneca vaccine for just a few weeks and fewer than a million doses have been injected. Health Canada has not reported any blood clots to date.

— Canadian Press

12:45 p.m. – Ontario issues four-week stay-at-home order, as hospital ICU cases exceed ‘worst-case scenarios’

With admissions to intensive care units soaring faster than even the province’s worst-case scenarios, Ontario Premier Doug Ford Wednesday enacted a third state of emergency for the province since the pandemic began, with a stay-at-home order effective at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

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“This third wave is different that anything we’ve faced so far,” Ford said at an afternoon news briefing, saying the way to curb the disease’s spread was “to get needles into arms” and to limit mobility.

“The reality is, despite everything we’ve done so far, the COVID-19 situation in Ontario is getting worse as these new variants continue to spread,” Ford said.

“We learned yesterday that admissions to ICU in the last week are increasing faster than the worst-case scenario predicted by our experts.”

The province is sending mobile vaccination teams into provincial hot spots like Toronto and Peel, “literally knocking on doors,” he said.

The emergency order closes all businesses except grocery stores and pharmacies, with others moving to curbside pick up only.

Big-box and discount stores will only be allowed to sell essential items only such as food, medications and personal care items.

The province is also pausing all residential evictions.

Teachers of special education students and all teachers in the Toronto and Peel regions will now be eligible vaccines and soon all teachers in the province will be eligible, he said.

The province is also going to faith-based places of worship in the hot spots to reach more people with the vaccine, he said.

The emergency order will be in effect for four weeks, Ford said.

— Blair Crawford, Ottawa Citizen

12 p.m. – 16-year-old dies of COVID-19, becoming youngest known fatality in Quebec

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A 16-year-old student died of COVID-19 Saturday at Ste-Justine Hospital.

The teenager is the youngest person in Quebec known to have died from the disease caused by the coronavirus.

No other information could be released, due to privacy reasons, said hospital spokesperson Florence Meney.

At present, there are no children under 18 being treated for COVID-19 at Ste-Justine, she said.

Last August, a Montreal teenager became the first Quebecer under 20 to die of COVID-19. Don Béni Kabangu Nsapu, 19, had no underlying conditions and was getting ready to start CEGEP when he passed away.

— Katherine Wilton, Montreal Gazette

10 a.m. – Canadians with cancer should get their second vaccine shot earlier, says oncology pharmacists

Canadians battling cancers may be at risk if their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine is delayed, said the Canadian Association of Pharmacy in Oncology.

The group cited data from a UK study that found among patients with solid cancers who didn’t get the booster shot at the three-week mark, only 39 per cent kept an immune response, while 13 per cent of people with blood cancer showed an immune response.

In comparison, an antibody response was found in 97 per cent of healthy volunteers.

“This demonstrates the urgent need for the NACI to factor in people with solid cancer and blood cancer earlier into phase 2 rollout of the vaccination strategy,” said association president Tina Crosby. “Further, this study identifies that delaying the second dose for these vulnerable individuals puts them at a greater risk for suboptimal protection.”

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The association is urging the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to adjust its plan to delay the second vaccine shot for all populations.

In B.C. health officials plan to administer the second dose four months after the initial shot.

6 a.m. – A third of COVID survivors suffer neurological or mental disorders: Study

One in three COVID-19 survivors in a study of more than 230,000 mostly American patients were diagnosed with a brain or psychiatric disorder within six months, suggesting the pandemic could lead to a wave of mental and neurological problems, scientists said on Tuesday.

Researchers who conducted the analysis said it was not clear how the virus was linked to psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression, but that these were the most common diagnoses among the 14 disorders they looked at.

Post-COVID cases of stroke, dementia and other neurological disorders were rarer, the researchers said, but were still significant, especially in those who had severe COVID-19.

“Although the individual risks for most disorders are small, the effect across the whole population may be substantial,” said Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at Oxford University who co-led the work.

Health experts are increasingly concerned by evidence of higher risks of brain and mental health disorders among COVID-19 survivors. A previous study by the same researchers found last year that 20% of COVID-19 survivors were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within three months.

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— Reuters

5 a.m. – Hospital doctors sound the alarm as B.C.’s ICUs start to fill up with young, seriously ill COVID patients

Dr. Gerald Da Roza says its discouraging to watch Royal Columbian Hospital’s intensive care unit filling with younger,  sicker COVID-19 patients just as vaccination programs ramp up.

“Before the variant part hit, I think a lot of us were on an upswing in terms of our optimism, you know we were turning the corner,” said Da Roza, head of medicine at Royal Columbian.

However, the “third wave” of COVID-19 infections with thousands of new cases diagnosed over the Easter weekend, means more people are ending up in hospitals and admissions are straining critical-care staff.

“It is discouraging for those of us involved in this sort of care of COVID patients and putting so much effort into it, that if you see a situation where people are flouting the rules, or just ignoring them. It’s a bit demoralizing,” Da Roza said.

The workload hasn’t hit a point the hospital can’t handle, but Royal Columbian is at a “pressure point where we’re using a lot of our resources” to care for younger patients, with numbers rising steadily over the past couple of weeks.

“The reports I have this morning are that our ward cohort of COVID patients is kind of at the highest that we’ve seen in the past year,” Da Roza said.

Independent health modellers estimate B.C.’s ICUs could hit capacity by mid-May unless there are tougher restrictions to change in the trajectory of new COVID-19 infections, particularly with the more virulent variants taking hold.

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-Derrick Penner

5 a.m. – No plan to suspend in-class learning in Surrey as daily case count soars

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has no plans to suspend in-class learning in Surrey schools to help manage the rising COVID-19 caseload and hospitalizations among young people in that city.

“What we have learned is that we see cases go up when children are not in school and that is often because they have unstructured time and children need school,” said Henry on Tuesday — the day that Toronto suspended all in-class learning and Quebec reversed an order that would have allowed full-time in class learning for Grades 9, 10 and 11.

“We know (school) is a safe place for (children) where emotional, physical as well as educational growth happens and that families and communities are best supported when we have children safely in school. So we’ll still be focusing on that.”

Henry reported 1,068 new cases of COVID-19 over the past day — including 207 cases of variants of concern. The seven-day average daily case count has been accelerating since March 19 and represents a third wave of the disease. There are 8,671 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C.

-David Carrigg

5 a.m. – Experts say variants likely make up at least 40 per cent of B.C.’s cases, double what officials have disclosed

B.C. is drastically undercounting variants of concern, according to several prominent epidemiologists and data analysts, all of whom say these highly contagious strains now make up more than half of COVID-19 cases in the province.

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Internal slides from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, leaked to Postmedia News, show that presumptive variant cases made up at least 40 per cent of all positive COVID-19 cases as of March 27. That’s double the estimate given by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on March 25, when she said about 20 per cent of positive COVID-19 cases were variants.

Neither of those figures take into account the rapid increase in variant cases over the Easter long weekend, when cases of the P.1 variant, first identified in Brazil, almost doubled. B.C. has confirmed 877 cases of the P.1 variant, the highest rate in Canada.

Henry on Tuesday said the B.1.1.7, the variant first identified in the U.K, currently makes up about a third of B.C.’s cases. The strain represents about 60 per cent of Ontario’s cases, but Henry expects B.C. will match that rate in about a month.

-Katie DeRosa

12 a.m. – Health officials report 1,068 new cases Tuesday, with 20 per cent of COVID patients in hospital suffering from a variant

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported 1,068 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday – including 207 variants of concern.

Henry said she expected the most common variant in B.C. – the B.1.1.7 mutation first identified in the U.K. – would account for around 60 per cent of all cases within a month.

This is particularly troubling because the variant is more contagious and has been found all over B.C.

The second most common P.1 variant has accounted for cases in Whistler in mid to late February.

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Henry said three people had died from COVID-19 over the past day – with the toll at 1,489.

There are 328 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 96 in intensive care. Of those in hospital 42 have the B.1.1.7 variant and 20 have the P.1 variant.

So far, 912,056 people in B.C. have received a vaccine including 87,474 who have received the required second dose.

12 a.m. – Schools in Toronto ordered closed

Toronto elementary and secondary schools have been ordered closed, effective Wednesday, until at least April 18.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa invoked Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act in response to COVID-19 case numbers.

All classes in public elementary and secondary schools will move to online or remote learning.

– Toronto Sun


B.C. VACCINE TRACKER



LOCAL RESOURCES for COVID-19 information

Here are a number of information and landing pages for COVID-19 from various health and government agencies.

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool

Vancouver Coastal Health – Information on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

HealthLink B.C. – Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page

B.C. Centre for Disease Control – Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update

World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

– With files from The Canadian Press

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