COVID-19 update for April 8: Record high 1,293 daily cases in B.C. as B.1.1.7 takes over | Fraser Health teachers want more aggressive action against ‘third wave’ | BC Greens call for three-week shutdown

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 8, 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 8:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 108,278 (9,184 active cases)
• New cases since April 7: 1,293
• Total deaths: 1,493 (2 new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 336
• Intensive care: 101
• Total vaccinations: 995,001 doses administered.
• Cases under public health monitoring: 15,203
• Recovered: 97,462
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 11

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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.

2 p.m. – Record high 1,293 daily cases as B.1.1.7 takes over

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has reported 1,293 new cases of COVID-19 over the past day.

She said there were 9,184 active cases, of which 336 were being treated in hospital – including 101 in intensive care.

Henry said two people had died, bringing that toll to 1,493.

There has been 995,001 doses of vaccines administered in B.C.

Henry said the B.1.1.7 variant was taking over.

“It’s here, it’s increasing and causing more transmissions,” Henry said.

She said people with B.1.1.7 were not more likely to end up in hospital, based on current cases.

She also warned of “mutations of concern”, that were mutations of the three variants of concern in B.C.

Henry said genome sequencing would no longer be done on variant cases identified through a PCR test.

That means a person will learn they had contracted a variant, but not which one.

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She said WorkSafeBC would be allowed to close a workplace for at least 10 days when more than three workers have COVID-19.

Henry also called on people to reduce social interaction and travel as much as possible.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said there were 40 COVID-19 patients on ventilators in B.C.

There are 730 active ventilators in the province, with 146 in use, Dix added.

David Carrigg

12:30 p.m. – B.C. government makes funding announcement for businesses affected by health order

Teachers in the Fraser Health region are calling on the B.C. government to implement more aggressive measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Minister of Jobs Ravi Kahlon makes an announcement about funding supports for businesses impacted by the temporary public health orders put in place on March 30.

11:30 – Fraser Health declares COVID-19 outbreaks over at Ridge Meadows Hospital and Fleetwood Place

The Fraser Health Authority has declared COVID-19 outbreaks over at Ridge Meadows Hospital and at Fleetwood Place in Surrey.

Health officials say thanks to prevention strategies there are no longer any COVID-19 cases at these two locations.

11 a.m. – Teachers in Fraser Health region call for aggressive measures to deal with ‘third wave’

Presidents of the 12 local unions representing Kindergarten to Grade 12 public school teachers signed a letter to government saying they are very concerned that B.C. is now identified by epidemiologists around the world as a hotspot for the P.1 variant, first identified in Brazil.

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They are asking that at this time a region-specific phase change to at least Stage 3 to allow for blended in-person and online learning.

“It is critical that we support our students and their family with health and safety measures that keep them safe at this time,” the presidents said Thursday.

They also want mandated masks in Kindergarten to Grade 3 and an update on the teacher vaccination progress.

8:30 a.m. – Outbreak declared at VGH family health care centre

Vancouver Coastal Health has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Joseph and Rosalie Segal Family Health Centre.

Two clients at the centre, located at Vancouver General Hospital, have tested positive for COVID-19.

The unit is closed to new admissions and transfers at this time.

All non-essential visits to the Segal Centre have been suspended until the outbreak measures have been lifted, except for compassionate visits at the end of life.

8 a.m. – BC Greens call for three-week lockdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus

The BC Green Party is calling for a three-week lockdown that includes enforcing non-essential travel, moving school online for most students, and providing support to temporarily close non-essential businesses.

“Earlier this spring, I said it felt like government was not rising to the fight in light of rising case numbers. Now it is feeling like they are forfeiting the fight altogether,” said Sonia Furstenau, leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Cowichan Valley.

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“We were not dealt a bad hand – we loosened restrictions despite rising variant cases, allowed out-of-province travel, stalled in-school mask mandates, and did not enforce orders or tailor messaging to hit those who have not been following orders. This third wave is the outcome of that inaction.

The party also wants the government to resume daily COVID briefings, publish numbers on the weekend, and expand asymptomatic testing and rapid testing in workplaces, schools, businesses, and neighbourhoods.

5 a.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.

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— Derrick Penner

5 a.m. – Expert weighs in on the safety of outdoor dining given the rise in variants

It’s finally patio season. With sunny days and temperatures expected to hit the mid-teens next week, pandemic-weary B.C. residents are likely to flock to their favourite restaurants and pubs to enjoy food and drinks outdoors.

But given the rise in the more contagious variants, how safe is it to eat on a patio?

Since the B.C. government last week ordered restaurants to suspend indoor dining for three weeks, there has been an online push to support struggling eateries by either dining on the patio or calling for takeout.

Experts advise concerned restaurant patrons to choose a well-ventilated patio over an enclosed outdoor space with walls.

The variants should be taken “very seriously” and some patios are riskier than others, said Dr. Michael Brauer, an expert in the built environment and human health at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health.

“I think the enclosed patios, the ones with walls and some kind of roof, can be worse than being indoors because they might not have the same ventilation system as in a building,” he said.

“I’m always shocked when I show up to a restaurant and they say they have a patio, but it is a space enclosed in plastic,” he said.

However, under the provincial health order patios must have unrestricted air flowing from at least two sides. Patrons must be at least two metres away from each other or be separated by a barrier such as plexiglass.

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Samantha Scholefield, program manager for the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said restaurants and pubs are struggling with no indoor service and so they are working really hard to ensure they have a safe environment.

12 a.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.


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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