COVID-19 update for April 15: 1,205 new cases, three additional deaths | Vancouver biggest source for domestic COVID-infected flights | Canucks game postponed

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 15, 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.


As of the latest figures given on April 15:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 116,075 (10,052 active cases)
• New cases since April 13: 1,205
• Total deaths: 1,524 (3 new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 409
• Intensive care: 125
• Total vaccinations: 1,235,863 doses administered (87,820 second doses as of April 14)
• Cases under public health monitoring: 16,217
• Recovered: 104,331
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 12


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


6:15 p.m. – Rare cases of vaccinated people in B.C. still contracting COVID-19

B.C. has reported instances where people who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine still developed COVID-19.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said about 400 people who had received a single dose developed COVID-19 14 or more days after getting the initial shot.

There were also about 30 vaccinated people who tested positive for COVID-19 seven days or more after receiving the second dose.

In both cases, Henry said the cases were rare and make up less than 0.1 per cent of vaccinated cases.

6 p.m. – More than 300 overseas travellers with COVID arrived in Canada over six weeks this year

More than 300 air travellers arriving at Vancouver airport over six weeks this year tested positive for COVID-19 when they landed, according to data released by a federal health agency.


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From Feb. 22, the first day Canada required international arrivals by air to quarantine for three days at a hotel, until April 7, 23,252 passengers landed at YVR and were tested for the coronavirus, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

In total 306, or 1.3 per cent, tested positive, said Tammy Jarbeau in an email.

That worked out to almost seven passengers a day.

“The majority of these travellers that arrived by air were staying at a government-authorized accommodation when they tested positive and were then redirected to a designated quarantine facility or another suitable location to limit their interaction with other Canadians,” she said.

The agency also reported that over the course of the pandemic, police in B.C. followed up with 8,300 travellers who were required to quarantine for 14 days at home, she said.

“Compliance with the border measures has been high,” said Jarbeau.

Police issued 143 tickets and one summary conviction charge to travellers not complying with the federal law. Police also issued 32 oral warnings and two written warnings. The health agency’s own quarantine officers issued 180 contravention tickets under the federal Quarantine Act to travellers arriving in B.C., she said.

The Agency didn’t provide more details about the violations or the summary conviction offence.

— Susan Lazaruk

5:45 p.m. – B.C. hospital capacity concerns centre on staff, not beds

As pandemic-related hospitalizations hit record highs in B.C. on Thursday, the B.C. Nurses’ Union said staff shortages will compromise patient care if numbers continue to rise.


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“Nurses repeat to me every day that they are working in an untenable situation,” said BCNU president Christine Sorensen. “Across the province, we are seeing capacity problems. Some of these problems are not new, but COVID-19 is increasing that pressure.”

Hospital occupancy across the province was at 92.4 per cent of total beds and 80.5 per cent of critical care beds on Thursday, according to Health Minister Adrian Dix. When “surge beds” are added, occupancy drops to 56.5 per cent of critical care beds.

There are 409 people currently in hospital with COVID-19, 125 of whom are in intensive care.

But the health minister admitted concerns around occupancy are less about beds and more about the ability to staff them.

“The challenge is not equipment,” Dix said. “We have a considerable supply of ventilators and we are not touching in any way our ventilator capacity or our bed capacity. But what does happen, of course, is when we move into surge beds, it puts significant additional pressure on staff.”

Sorensen, who has access to data from individual hospitals, said several B.C. hospitals are already over capacity. She said Fort St. John Hospital was at 130-per-cent capacity of funded beds on Thursday, while the University Hospital of Northern B.C. was at 111 per cent earlier in the week. Abbotsford Hospital was at 101 per cent on Monday, while Campbell River was at 123 per cent, and Nanaimo was at 110 per cent.

— Glenda Luymes

5 p.m. – Whistler reports 179 new cases 


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Whistler, a COVID-19 hotspot in B.C., reported 179 new cases of the virus from April 6 to 11.

This brings the total number of cases this year to date to 1,685. Out of this, 1,457 people have recovered.

Vancouver Coastal Health officials say the reported cases continue to be among young people who live and work in the resort municipality. 

Adults who live and work in Whistler are eligible to get a COVID-10 vaccine starting April 12.

4:15 p.m. – Vancouver biggest source for domestic COVID infected flights: Health Canada

As B.C. deals with crippling variant-fuelled outbreaks and lawmakers consider restricting interprovincial travel, Vancouver remains the top source for domestic air passengers infected with COVID-19.

Data made available by Health Canada shows, so far in April, 39 flights departed from Vancouver International Airport carrying passengers who tested positive for COVID-19.

Calgary was Canada’s second-biggest source of infected domestic flights with 31, followed by Toronto with 23, Edmonton with 12 and Montreal with six.

Unlike international passengers, which under Canadian law are required to present a recent negative COVID-19 test before boarding and submit to a second test and mandatory quarantine upon arrival, no such rules exist for domestic travel.

For instance, the Province of Ontario only ‘strongly advises’ a 14-day self-quarantine after returning from another province — no authority exists to enforce this rule.


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Calgary was the most popular destination for infected flights, amounting to 10 since April 1 — incidentally the same number of flights that Calgary sent back to Vancouver carrying COVID-positive passengers.

That was followed by Edmonton with nine, Toronto with seven and Montreal with six.

— Bryan Passifiume, Toronto Sun

2 p.m. – 1,205 new cases, three additional deaths

More than 1,200 new cases of COVID-19 was reported in B.C. on Thursday.

Out of the 1,205 new cases, 301 were in Vancouver Coastal Health, 730 in Fraser Health, 38 in Vancouver Island Health, 69 in Interior Health, and 66 in Northern Health. One case was reported in a person who normally lives outside of Canada.

The new cases bring active cases in the province to 10,052. Hospitalizations continue to rise. There are 409 people in hospital, with 125 in intensive care.

There were three additional deaths reported, bringing the death toll in B.C. to 1,524 since the pandemic began.

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2 p.m. – More virulent variants continue to surge in B.C., up to 60% of cases and growing

Coronavirus variants now make up about 60 per cent of new cases in B.C., as infections continue an exponential surge in recent weeks, according to statistical and computer-modelling information released by the province Thursday.

The predominant variants in B.C. are the B.1.1.7 variant identified in the U.K. and the P.1 variant identified in Brazil, each accounting for about half of variant virus cases.

The variants, mutations of the virus that cause COVID-19, are a concern because they spread more easily and can cause worse outcomes including higher rates of death.

In the past several weeks, case numbers in B.C. have been hitting record highs of 1,000 or more. Hospitalization cases have also been on the rise, particularly among younger people in the 19 to 29 age group, although death rates have not risen.

That’s, in part, because older aged people who are more susceptible to becoming sicker and dying have been vaccinated at higher rates, more than 75 per cent for people aged 80 and over.

— Gordon Hoekstra

12:40 p.m. – 8.8 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Canada

Canada’s deputy chief public health officer says more than 8.8 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Canada, with 84 per cent of people over 80 receiving a first dose and 69 per cent of those between 70 and 79 getting a first shot.

Dr. Howard Njoo says there have been 3,444 adverse events following vaccinations, including any mild event such as soreness or a slight fever.


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He says just 464 of these reports were considered serious, such as a severe allergic reaction.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is overseeing logistical planning for Canada’s vaccine distribution, says 12.7 million doses of vaccine have been delivered to provinces and territories to date.

He says distribution of the one million doses receive from Pfizer and BioNTech this week is complete, and the companies will continue to receive one million doses weekly of the vaccine through the end of May and two million weekly in June.

Fortin says Moderna shipped 855,000 doses this week and distribution to provinces and territories is expected to be completed today.

Delivery of 1.2 million doses of this vaccine is expected at the end of April, and 2.8 million doses are expected in May.

– Postmedia

12:30 p.m. – Alberta doctor’s death linked to COVID-19

The Alberta Medical Association (AMA) has reported the death of a Lethbridge physician “related to COVID-19.”

“The physician community joins in mourning a colleague and leader of his health community,” reads the tweet.

Postmedia has identified the physician as Dr. Wayne John Edwards, 66.


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– Calgary Herald

12:30 p.m. – Canucks game postponed

Friday night’s Vancouver Canucks vs. Edmonton Oilers game will be postponed, a source has confirmed to Postmedia.

Eyes and ears have been trained on the Canucks’ team doctors since a Wednesday evening video conference between Canucks players and the NHL Players’ Association.

Hours after Canucks forward J.T. Miller spoke with the media Wednesday and called the schedule his team is now facing following a lengthy layoff due to a COVID-19 outbreak “dangerous,” representatives from the union met with the players and were told of health and safety concerns they had.

Miller’s airing of concerns wasn’t an accident and he wasn’t speaking alone or out of turn, Postmedia has learned.

There are still seven players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list as of Thursday morning. Several players who have been cleared from the list in the last two days don’t feel ready to play and are taking longer to recover than they had hoped, echoing what Miller said in his earlier statements to the media.

– Patrick Johnston

7:30 a.m. – Poll finds more than half of Canadians support three-day hotel quarantine for air traveller, but nearly just as many don’t think it works

More than half of Canadians support the federal government’s three-day hotel stay for returning air travellers, but nearly just as many think it’s ineffective, according to a new poll Thursday.

The Angus Reid Institute poll found 58 per cent of respondents said the self-paid, three-day stay was necessary, while 34 per cent said it was unnecessary and eight per cent were not sure.


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It also found that 48 per cent think the plan is ineffective, compared with 30 per cent who think it works. Only five per cent say it is really effective.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that more than 100 passengers at Vancouver International Airport had refused the government’s mandatory quarantine. Those people face up to $3,000 a day in fines.

The poll found 29 per cent think the government should discontinue the three-day hotel protocol, while 52 per cent would keep the policy in place until at least September.

5 a.m. – Modelling shows more work needed to stop COVID from overwhelming B.C. hospitals

Transmission of the coronavirus must be reduced by about 40 per cent from March’s rate of spread to bend the pandemic curve and stop hospitalizations from rising above capacity, according to an independent modelling report released Wednesday.

The detailed information is the first to be released by a B.C. COVID-19 modelling group comprised of academics from the University of B.C., Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria, as well as consultants in data analytics.

The group, which has been together for more than a year, plans to begin releasing regular reports.

The report’s modelling found that hospitalization numbers are projected to rise above capacity in May unless virus transmission, driven by a rise in virus variants that spread more easily and cause worse outcomes, is brought under control.


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It is possible that measures already taken by the province such as shutting down indoor dining and targeting vaccinations at hotspots such as Whistler and Prince Rupert will bring down the transmission rate, but it’s likely not enough to halt the exponential growth, said University of B.C. epidemiologist Sarah Otto, one of the modelling group’s members and editor of the report.

“The problem is that the vaccines are rolling out a constant number every day. Variants are growing exponentially. And you can’t compete with exponential growth,” said Otto, a zoologist who specializes in mathematical modelling.

Otto said the group decided to release the information because it is important to communicate openly with the public. The province has also released modelling results periodically, but has come under some criticism for its transparency around variant data.

The modelling group suggests that B.C.’s vaccination program needs to swiftly target those with the most contacts so that hospitalization rates can be reduced in the next two to three months.

— Gord Hoekstra

5 a.m. – B.C. extends ban on indoor dining; critics say it’s not enough

The extension of COVID-19 restrictions on indoor dining and group fitness into May is not enough to prevent the spread of variants of concern, critics say, as calls grow for tougher measures including a crackdown on interprovincial travel.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday expressed support for provinces and territories closing their borders to limit the spread of the virus.


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“I’ve been supporting premiers and territorial leaders on what they need to do to keep people safe,” the prime minister said in an interview with CBC’s Daybreak South. “As we saw with the Atlantic bubble, as we saw with the the Arctic territories, they make decisions around closing off the regions. That is something that we are supportive of.”

Premier John Horgan told reporters Tuesday that travel restrictions remain on the table “but practicality is first and foremost.” He has previously said that a travel ban would be difficult to enforce, given the size of B.C. and its long border with Alberta. However, in a call with Alberta Premier Jason Kenny on Tuesday, Horgan said the two discussed essential and non-essential travel between the two provinces and “the consequences that’s having on case counts.”

Earlier this month, Alberta’s chief medical health officer, Deena Hinshaw, confirmed that a single person who travelled outside of Alberta triggered a “significant outbreak” of the P.1 variant at the three work sites linked to a large employer with multiple sites across Western Canada. Hinshaw also said some of Alberta’s P.1 cases have been linked to the P.1 outbreak that shut down Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort.

B.C. has 1,529 confirmed cases of the P.1 variant, 82 per cent of the 1,850 P.1 variants in Canada and the largest number outside of Brazil.

— Katie DeRosa

5 a.m. – Vancouver company in fight to identify COVID-19 variant-killing vaccine


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A Vancouver company is studying COVID-19 vaccine candidates that could be effective in controlling mutant strains now taking over the world.

According to a press release, Eyam Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics has started preclinical studies on the “efficacy of unique COVID-19 vaccine candidates that target SARS-CoV-2 variants.”

The study is part of a joint venture licensing agreement struck last November with the University of B.C. to “develop several propriety COVID-19 vaccine candidates in a self-amplifying mRNA vaccine platform”.

Messenger RNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are the most effective of the suite of vaccines being made globally and are the most commonly used in B.C.

The joint venture used mRNA candidates identified by leading Canadian immunologist and company chair Dr. Wilfred Jeffries.

“New vaccines that are able to be effective for multiple variants are needed to address the emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants and this is the focus of our current preclinical work,” said Eyam CEO Ryan M. Thomas.

“Overall, the commencement of preclinical studies represents a key milestone in our research program that will establish Eyam as a worldwide leader in the creation and commercial development of vaccines.”

More than half the cases being found in B.C. now are variants-of-concern, primarily the B.1.1.7 and P. 1 mutations — both are more contagious than the original COVID-19 identified in December 2019.


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— David Carrigg

5 a.m. – Whistler silenced by one of the largest P.1 variant outbreaks outside South America

Were it a normal year, hordes of skiers and snowboarders, filmmakers and other visitors would now be descending on Whistler, B.C. for the World Ski and Snowboard Festival, an international extravaganza of mountain culture, music and partying.

This year, however, the festival is being held virtually from April 16 to 23, and the mountain resort two hours north of Vancouver is getting international headlines for another reason. Whistler is at the centre of one of the largest outbreaks of the P.1 Brazilian COVID variant in the country, if not the world — outside of South America.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control tracks the P.1 variant in 52 locations in the world, but the vast majority of cases are in South and North America. The U.S. had an estimated 500 cases as of April 11.

British Columbia accounts for the majority of P.1 variant cases in Canada, and Whistler, as of early April, accounted for roughly one-quarter of all the cases in the province.

The intensity of the Whistler outbreak led to a shut down of the main ski resort at the end of March, and as of this week, all adults in Whistler became eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in an effort to halt the outbreak.

Data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows that British Columbia has had roughly 1,500 of the 1,700 cases of the P.1 variant confirmed so far across the country. More than 1,000 of the 1,500 P.1 variant cases in B.C. are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which includes Whistler and Vancouver.


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On April 6, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s health officer, said 200 of the then-877 P.1 cases in the province were in the Whistler area. The vast majority of cases — 83 per cent according to Vancouver Coastal Health — were among those between the ages of 20 and 39.

— Tyler Dawson

12 a.m. – B.C. reports record hospitalizations

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, reported 1,168 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and six deaths.

She said there were 9,821 active cases of the disease in the province, with 16,304 people under public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases.

“Of the active cases, 397 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 120 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation,” Henry said.

This is a record for the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 – 1,521 people had died from COVID-19 in B.C. since the pandemic began last March.


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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