COVID-19 update for April 21: Seven deaths and 862 new cases reported in B.C. | Variant linked to India crisis detected in B.C. | CFL to start season Aug. 5

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 21, 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 21:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 121,751 (8,906 active cases)
• New cases since April 20: 862
• Total deaths: 1,546 (7 new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 483
• Intensive care: 164
• Total vaccinations: 1,456,946 doses administered (88,335second doses)
• Cases under public health monitoring: 13,135
• Recovered: 111,039
• 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.

3 p.m. – Seven deaths and 862 new cases reported, as variant from India appears in B.C. 

Health officials have confirmed the COVID-19 variant B 1.617 first discovered in India is now in B.C.

In a prepared statement, a B.C. Ministry of Health spokesperson said that 39 cases of the double mutation had been identified in B.C.

These cases were found at the beginning of April but were not reported because “at the time, B 1.617 had not been identified as a variant of concern or variant under investigation,” the spokesperson said.

“B.C. was able to identify this lineage through whole genome sequencing. This is why B.C. has recently changed its surveillance strategy to ensure there is lab capacity to identify new and emerging variants.”

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has now classified B 1.617 as a “variant of interest” and the BCCDC Public Health Lab is reviewing genetic sequencing information and linking that to case details.

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The ministry is expected to make more information available at the end of this week, including the number and nature of the B 1.617 cases identified so far.

Canada’s first case of B 1. 617 was reported in Quebec earlier on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported 862 new cases of the disease and seven deaths.

There are now 8,906 active cases of the disease in B.C., of which 483 are being treated in hospital including 164 in intensive care. While the number of people in hospital is growing, the seven-day average daily case count is falling.

There has been 1,456,946 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in B.C.

3 p.m. – AstraZeneca advice from national panel delayed by new data on COVID-19 and variants

Canada’s chief public health officer says new information on COVID-19 and variants prompted the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to suddenly cancel its planned announcement on who should get the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

NACI was minutes away Tuesday afternoon from providing an update to its advice that AstraZeneca shouldn’t be given to people under the age of 55 but the planned briefing was called off. That cancellation came even as five provinces had already decided to lower the age limit as doses of the vaccine sat in freezers and cases of COVID-19 soared.

The cancellation immediately led to concern from some Canadians that NACI knew something they didn’t about the vaccine’s safety.

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Not so, said Dr. Theresa Tam, who is not part of the committee but interacts with them as the country’s top public health doctor.

Tam said Wednesday the panel believed some new data on the virus and its variants of concern, and the effect they were having on severe outcomes, had to be taken into account. She said that information came from the provinces and territories and she doesn’t know if the new data will change the advice NACI had been set to deliver.

“Just to reassure everyone that it is because they received some new data that they thought was pertinent in terms of analyzing the impact of the COVID-19 on the population in light of variants of concern, and not because of any changes in the data already existing for the thrombosis disorder itself,” Tam said.

– Canadian Press

11:15 a.m. – Trudeau says hotel quarantine effective but he’s looking at ban on flights from India

Canada is extending the use of quarantine hotels for international air travellers another month, and considering whether it needs to do more to stop COVID-19 cases from getting into the country from abroad.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that could include barring incoming flights from specific countries, such as India, even as he defended his government’s actions on the border as effective Tuesday.

“We are continuing to look at more and I have asked our officials to look carefully at, for example, what the U.K. has done very recently on suspending flights from India,” he said.

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The U.K. is adding India to its “red list” of countries from which it bars incoming flights. Only British citizens arriving from one of the 40 countries on the list are permitted entry, and they must go to quarantine hotels for 10 days.

India has reported more than 250,000 new cases of COVID-19 daily this week. Its hospitals are full and the death toll is piling up. Doctors are investigating whether another new variant, known as B.1.617, may be part of the reason.

Last December, Canada suspended flights from the U.K. for just over two weeks due to concerns about the COVID-19 variant that first emerged there.

Canada currently requires all air passengers arriving from outside the country to spend up to three days in an approved quarantine hotel pending a COVID-19 test result.

Those rules, which also require COVID-19 tests before boarding an international flight to Canada, and for people arriving at land borders, were extended another month to May 21, Trudeau said.

– The Canadian Press

10:45 a.m. – Variant linked to India crisis detected in Quebec

Quebec has identified its first case of the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, which originated in India and is believed to be fuelling the pandemic surge in that country.

The case was identified in a patient in the Haute-Mauricie region of Quebec, north of Trois-Rivières, officials with Quebec’s public health laboratory confirmed Wednesday. It is believed to be the first case of this variant identified in Canada.

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The patient tested positive for COVID-19 roughly two weeks ago. The sample was sent to the provincial laboratory for genetic sequencing to determine whether it was among the variants of concern.

The patient was vaccinated two months ago.

Under Quebec protocol, the results for any patient who has been vaccinated and later tests positive for COVID-19 are sent to provincial laboratories to undergo genetic sequencing tests to identify possible variants. Those tests take one to three weeks to carry out.

“We have a confirmed case of B.1.617 in Haute-Mauricie,” said Michel Roger, head of the Quebec’s public health laboratory.

Further information on the patient, including their condition, was not available. Officials said they are not certain how the variant was introduced into Quebec.

– Ottawa Citizen

9:15 a.m. – CFL delays start of 2021 season to Aug. 5

The CFL has delayed the start to the 2021 season.

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie made the announcement on Wednesday morning, ending weeks of speculation regarding if and when the 2021 season would start.

Ambrosie revealed in a media statement that a 14-game regular season is “targeted” to kick off on Aug. 5. The 2021 Grey Cup game, originally slated for Nov. 21 in Hamilton, has been moved to Dec. 12. Training camps are to open in mid-July.

“We will play CFL football in 2021,” Ambrosie said in a prepared statement. “Our revised target date to start our regular season is Aug. 5. To facilitate a 14-game season, for our players, fans and partners, we are re-scheduling the Grey Cup to Dec. 12 in Hamilton.

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– Regina Leader-Post

9 a.m. – Interior Health declares outbreak over at Kelowna General Hospital

Interior Health has declared the COVID-19 outbreak over in unit 4E at Kelowna General Hospital.

“I would like to thank the team at KGH for their efforts in containing this outbreak and preventing further spread throughout the hospital,” said Interior Health president Susan Brown. “We encourage everyone to get vaccinated when you are eligible and continue following precautions to limit spread and protect our health-care system.”

A total of three cases – one patient and two staff – were linked to the outbreak on this unit.

8:45 a.m. – Alberta premier ‘respects’ B.C.’s travel restrictions

As part of the COVID-19 related travel restrictions, announced Monday by B.C. Premier John Horgan, signs will be erected along B.C.’s border with Alberta warning people not to come into the province unless it’s for essential travel.

There are no plans to implement similar measures in Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney said during Tuesday’s news conference.

Kenney said he spoke with Horgan last week about B.C.’s ongoing concern about interprovincial travel. He said he respects B.C.’s decision.

“This is not the time for non-essential travel. We have seen a number of the very contagious P.1 Brazilian variant cases come to Alberta from travel from British Columbia,” said Kenney.

It is not an absolute closure of the border, the premier said.

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“If we can just bend down this curve now and let the vaccines get ahead of the variants, then I am certain we’ll be able to get back to regular travel in the summer,” Kenney added.

– Calgary Herald

8:15 a.m. – More flights added to COVID-19 exposure list

Another 11 flights with COVID-infected passengers — including three more YVR arrivals from Delhi — have been added to the B.C. Centre of Disease Control’s COVID-19 flight exposure list.

India reported nearly 300,000 new infections and a record of more than 2,000 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday

The affected flights are:

  • April 5, Air Canada 305, Montreal to Vancouver
  • April 5, Flair 8822, Vancouver to Calgary
  • April 11, Swoop 183, Toronto to Abbotsford
  • April 12, WestJet 3116, Victoria to Calgary
  • April 13, Air Canada 201, Calgary to Vancouver
  • April 14, Air Canada 45, Delhi to Vancouver
  • April 14, Air Canada 103, Toronto to Vancouver
  • April 14, Sunwing 2852, Mexico City to Vancouver
  • April 15, Air Canada 115, Toronto to Vancouver
  • April 17, Air Canada 45, Delhi to Vancouver
  • April 18, Air Canada 45, Delhi to Vancouver

The BCCDC says passengers seated near a case of COVID-19 will no longer be directly notified of their potential exposure.

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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8 a.m. – Abbotsford nurse begs people to take virus seriously after ‘particularly bad shift’

An Abbotsford nurse is begging people to take COVID-19 seriously after a “particularly bad shift” trying to save a man’s life from the virus.

Kendall Skuta has been a nurse for four years and works at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital, according to The Abbotsford News.

In the Instagram post Tuesday, Skuta says she felt compelled to take a photo after she reached a breaking point during a bad shift on the COVID-19 ward. A COVID-19 patient went into cardiac arrest and she describes a heartbreaking scene where staff were rushing to save the man’s life.

“We were running supplies to and from the room, everyone was taking turns pounding on the patient’s chest, praying for a sign of life again. It didn’t look good. CPR was performed for 35 minutes. The patient didn’t make it. He wasn’t even 60 years old,” she said.

“After his death was pronounced, we all stood there for a minute. Silent. Exhausted. Heartbroken. Lumps formed in our throats, tears filled our eyes. We looked at each other, trying to find the words – any words. There wasn’t a thing anybody could say.”

Skuta said the amount of death from COVID-19 she has seen in the last year weighs on her every day.

– Tiffany Crawford

5 a.m. – B.C. announces travel restrictions, lowers eligible age for AstraZeneca vaccine

B.C. Premier John Horgan on Monday announced sweeping new travel restrictions that prohibit people from travelling outside their health authority to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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B.C. will bring in an order on Friday that means people could face a fine for non-essential travel outside their local health authority, with checkpoints across the province.

B.C. Liberal Leader Shirley Bond slammed the move, saying she was not told about it during a regular meeting with the provincial health officer on Monday morning.

“It came as a complete surprise,” Bond said.

“The premier has had months to deal with the issue and consider potential travel restrictions. First it was on the table, then it was off the table, there was a legal opinion, can’t do it, we’re not like other jurisdictions. Then today an announcement with zero details. People don’t know whether they can drive to work on Friday morning.”

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth will issue orders under the Emergency Program Act which will allow police to do random roadside check spots, Horgan said, not unlike the check stops that target impaired drivers over the holiday season.

-Katie DeRosa, David Carrigg

5 a.m. – COVID-infected people arrive in B.C. from India as Trudeau ponders flight restriction

COVID-infected people continue to arrive in Vancouver from India — where mutations are out of control.

According to latest data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, 10 flights arrived in Vancouver from Delhi between April 6 and April 16 with infected people on board — and in some cases with several infected people on board.

During the same period, infected people also arrived in Vancouver from Amsterdam and the U.S.

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To be allowed to board a flight to Canada all passengers aged five and over must show a negative COVID-19 test result taken within the previous three days. If the person arrives by plane they must quarantine for three days in a government-approved hotel while they wait for a test taken when they arrived.

It is not known how people who have tested negative three days before departure arrive in Vancouver sick with the disease, but health officials have said they could have contracted the virus after the test.

-David Carrigg

5 a.m. – The winners in government pandemic spending spree

A day after the federal government dropped its debt-fuelled budget, the B.C. government filed its own 2021 financial prediction. At its core, the budget will see a record deficit of $9.7 billion for 2021-2022 with provincial debt expected to be almost $103 billion by 2024. The budget forecasts economic growth of 4.4 per cent this year after declining by 5.3 per cent in 2020.

Here’s a look at where pandemic provincial budget money will go and what it might mean to you:

The winners in government pandemic spending spree

12 a.m. – Active cases fall as seven-day daily average flattens

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported 849 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and one death.

Henry said there were now 9,145 active cases of the disease, of which 456 were being treated in hospital including 148 in intensive care. While hospitalizations are rising, average daily case count, active cases and the number of people in self isolation is falling. Those numbers had all been on the rise until today’s bulletin.

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Of the active cases, 163 are related to one of the three COVID-19 variants circulating in B.C.

Henry said there had been two new health-care facility outbreaks, at the Surrey Memorial Hospital and Dawson Creek Hospital. The outbreak at the Long Lake Chateau in Nanaimo – leaving 11 active health-care facility outbreaks.

12 a.m. – Outbreak at Surrey Memorial Hospital

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Surrey Memorial Hospital after five patients tested positive for the disease.

The health authority says the outbreak is limited to one medicine unit.

“The emergency department at Surrey Memorial Hospital remains open and there has been no impact to any other areas of the hospital,” Fraser Health said.


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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