COVID-19 update for May 18: Drop-in clinic open today for Surrey residents | U.S. cruise ships one step closer to skipping B.C. ports | Canada sets 75 per cent fully-vaccinated threshold before re-opening

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 May 18, 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 May 17:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 139,664 (5,021 active cases)
• New cases since May 14: 1,360
• Total deaths: 1,648 (14 new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 350
• Intensive care: 132
• Total vaccinations: 2,528,398 doses administered; 130,023 second doses
• Recovered from acute infection: 132,841
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 5


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


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3 p.m. – Health officials are set to share latest figures on COVID-19 in B.C.

Health officials are expected to update the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries across the province.

11:30 a.m. – B.C. to announce supports for tourism sector

Premier John Horgan and Melanie Mark, minister of tourism, are set to make an announcement on initiatives to support B.C.’s hard-hit tourism sector.

8:15 a.m. – India’s COVID-19 tally passes 25 million

India’s total COVID-19 caseload surged past 25 million on Tuesday as a powerful cyclone complicated the health crisis in the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, already among the hardest hit by a second wave of the pandemic.


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COVID-19 tests were administered to 200,000 people evacuated from coastal districts of Gujarat before the cyclone struck late on Monday and efforts were being made to try to limit any spread of infections.

“Masks have been arranged for people shifted to shelter homes,” said Sandip Sagale, a top official in Ahmedabad, the main city in Gujarat.

“Efforts are also made to maintain social distancing.”

India’s total tally of coronavirus cases now stands at 25.23 million, health ministry data showed, following 263,533 new infections over the past 24 hours, while fatalities rose by a record 4,329. The official total death toll is 278,719.

The government said about 98 per cent of India’s population of 1.3 billion remained susceptible to infections.

Only the United States has had more cases, or a worse single day death toll, when it lost 5,444 people on Feb. 12. But whereas the epidemic there peaked months ago, there is no certainty that India’s infections have.

– Reuters

8:15 a.m. – Five people mistakenly given saline water diluent instead of vaccine in Alberta

Ten people who received the Pfizer vaccine at the Lethbridge Exhibition at the end of April are being contacted by Alberta Health Services after it was determined five of them were unknowingly given saline instead of a dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

AHS discovered that five of 10 individuals who were immunized in the same window of time on April 29 were mistakenly given only the saline water diluent and not the actual vaccine. All 10 individuals, however, are being contacted directly by AHS and will be offered another immunization appointment, AHS said in a release Monday.


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– Postmedia

8 a.m. – Spanish study finds AstraZeneca vaccine followed by Pfizer dose is safe and effective

A Spanish study on mixing COVID-19 vaccines has found that giving a dose of Pfizer’s drug to people who already received a first shot of AstraZeneca vaccine is highly safe and effective, preliminary results showed on Tuesday.

The Combivacs study, run by Spain’s state-backed Carlos III Health Institute, found the presence of IgG antibodies in the bloodstream was between 30 and 40 times higher in people who got the follow-up Pfizer shot than in a control group who only received one AstraZeneca dose.

Meanwhile, the presence of neutralizing antibodies rose sevenfold after a Pfizer dose, significantly more than the doubling effect observed after a second AstraZeneca shot.

Around 670 volunteers between the ages of 18-59 who had already received a first dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine participated in the study, with some 450 given a Pfizer dose.

Just 1.7 per cent of the participants reported severe side effects, which were limited to headaches, muscle pain and general malaise, said Dr Magdalena Campins, one of the study’s leaders.

“These are not symptoms that can be considered serious,” she said.

– Reuters

6 a.m. – Drop-in clinic open at Bear Creek Park in Surrey today

Fraser Health has four neighbourhood COVID-19 vaccination drop-in clinics in Surrey this week, including one at Bear Creek Park today.

The upcoming clinics, all of which open at 8 a.m. and close at 7 p.m., include:


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• Monday, May 17, Bear Creek Park
• Tuesday, May 18, Bear Creek Park
• Saturday, May 22, Surrey Sport and Leisure
• Sunday, May 23, Surrey Sport and Leisure

The clinics, which targets high-transmission neighbourhoods, will dispense Pfizer/Moderna vaccines, and are open to all Surrey residents 18 and older.

The first 1,000 Surrey residents (residency will be confirmed by staff) to appear at each of the clinics will receive a wristband and a same-day appointment.

6 a.m. – A quicker path to normal: U.K. reopens at 30% vaccinated while Canada waits for 75%

Across the United Kingdom, where 30 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, people are free to begin “cuddling cautiously,” pubs are reopening and millions are socializing again as the country further exits a grim four-month lockdown.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the fully vaccinated, roughly 37 per cent of Americans as of Monday, may, with some exceptions, safely drop their masks, stop distancing and gather inside with people with whom they do not live. Fans are distancing at baseball stadiums, Broadway is set for a September reopening and county fairs across New York State are set to resume this summer.

Canadians, meanwhile, have been told they can look forward to a similar taste of pre-COVID life, though not until 75 per cent of those eligible for vaccines have achieved full vaccination status, meaning two weeks after the final vaccine dose. As of Monday, that figure stood at less than four per cent.


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— National Post

12 a.m. – U.S. cruise ships are one step closer to skipping B.C. ports

B.C.’s cruise ship industry is warning that U.S. ships are one step closer to bypassing B.C. ports after the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to allow Alaska-bound cruise ships to bypass Victoria and Vancouver.

The Alaska Tourism Recovery Act would temporarily exempt cruise ships from current regulations that require vessels to stop in a foreign country. In B.C., cruise ships en route to Alaska typically stop in Vancouver, Victoria or Prince Rupert. The bill is aimed at salvaging Alaska’s struggling tourism industry, which relies heavily on cruise ships, while Canadian ports remain closed to cruise ships until at least Feb. 28, 2022.

The legislation, introduced by Alaskan senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, could face a vote in the U.S. House of  Representatives this week.

While the legislation in its current form is a temporary measure, there’s a risk it could become permanent, said Ian Robertson, CEO of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.

— Katie DeRosa

12 a.m. – Canadian COVID-19 vaccine shows promising results in Phase 2 clinical trial

Canada’s first homegrown vaccine for COVID-19 is showing promising antibody results in hundreds of participants in a Phase 2 trial and could be ready for a final authorization request this summer.

Nathalie Landry, the executive vice-president for scientific and medical affairs for Medicago, said the vaccine appears to produce 10 times the antibodies as are seen in people who have had COVID-19.


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The results are not yet peer-reviewed but Landry said other vaccines in use showed a direct correlation between the level of antibodies produced and their effectiveness against COVID-19.

A Phase 3 trial for Medicago with 30,000 volunteers is already underway in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, and will expand to Brazil this week.

The Phase 3 trial is the final step before Health Canada can decide whether to approve the vaccine or not, something Landry hopes can happen this summer.

— Canadian Press


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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