Posts Tagged "COVID19"

23Jan

COVID-19: B.C. health care needs to be ‘reimagined’ as pandemic hits two-year mark, experts say

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“Never, never in my wildest nightmare did I think that we would still be in this and worse, actually, than it was in the beginning,” says Prince George nurse Tracey Jonker.

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Prince George registered nurse Tracey Jonker is dreading a return to work on the COVID ward at the University Hospital of Northern B.C. after a break to fulfil other duties since October, when the Delta wave of the virus was filling beds.

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The hospital isn’t as busy with the Omicron variant, but she expects that won’t last. With all previous waves of COVID-19, nurses in the North had the benefit of watching cases rise elsewhere, giving them a few weeks to brace for the wave of hospitalizations to break at their hospital.

“Never, never in my wildest nightmare did I think that we would still be in this and worse, actually, than it was in the beginning,” Junker, a nurse of 17 years, said as the second anniversary of COVID-19’s arrival in B.C. approaches.

The COVID-19 pandemic arrived with its first known case in B.C. on Feb. 1, 2020, and hit an already understaffed health-care system in which Jonker and her colleagues were “working short every day.”

“You just feel like you’ve aged so much during this, it has been beyond stressful,” Jonker said.

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Case counts are no longer reliable as a measure of the pandemic with B.C. reporting an average 2,100 new infections a day last week but with testing that has been limited to people older than 80, immune-compromised and others at high risk.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have become the marker that health officials use — and those hit a record 924 on Friday with 130 patients in intensive care.

Last week, regional health authorities cancelled or rescheduled non-urgent surgeries to cope with unplanned staff shortages caused largely by Omicron infections, just as they braced for patient admissions with Omicron.

In the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health authorities alone, those cancellations added up to 282 surgeries.

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“To know that it’s going off 22 months (later), it’s mind blowing,” Jonker said.

Dr. Srinivas Murthy, a clinical associate professor in pediatrics in the University of B.C.’s faculty of medicine.
Dr. Srinivas Murthy, a clinical associate professor in pediatrics in the University of B.C.’s faculty of medicine. Photo by DARRYL DYCK /PNG

Dr. Bonnie Henry has hinted that the Omicron wave might soon crest based on modelling, but COVID-19 has already exhausted the system.

In a briefing Friday, the provincial health officer and Health Minister Adrian Dix detailed how B.C. will manage COVID-19, similar to how the province handles endemic respiratory illnesses, such as influenza.

“We cannot eliminate all risk, and I think that’s something that we need to understand as this virus has changed and has become part of what we will be living with for years to come,” Henry said.

Dix said that the number of health-care workers calling in sick eased last week, with 7,952 absences for the period between Jan. 17 to 19, compared to more than 11,000 for the period of Jan. 10 to 12, “which is a significant reduction, although significantly above (normal).”

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“We’re committed to restoring all services that have been interrupted in the weeks to come,” Dix said.

But the system has a “staffing crisis” rather than shortage, said the B.C. Nurses’ Union president, Aman Grewal.

Two years into the pandemic, Grewal would like to see Dix focus on increasing capacity by adding more student spaces in nursing schools and expediting the recognition of foreign-trained nurses.

Nurses, Grewal said, are “just tired, they’re exhausted.”

“Many are suffering from PTSD and moral distress. When you are seeing death day in, day out, that has a significant affect your mental health.”

The pandemic has illustrated B.C.’s health care system needs to be “reimagined” in a way that gives the public confidence that it will have the surge capacity to handle such problems in the future, said Dr. Srinivas Murthy, a clinical associate professor in pediatrics in the University of B.C.’s faculty of medicine.

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COVID-19 will persist in waves and none of what has happened should have taken authorities by surprise, Murthy said.

“People say Omicron was a surprise, Delta was surprise, but really they’re not,” Murthy said. “They’re exactly what should have been expected based on our global levels of vaccination.”

If B.C. had chosen to focus on hospital capacity, training new nurses, respiratory therapists and other professionals starting in 2020, they could have been in place for this 2022 surge, Murthy said.

“Obviously that would cost money. Obviously that would be a big deal,” Murthy said. “But if we had that foresight, we’d be in a much better place than we are right now.

Instead, “we sort of hoped that the pandemic would go away — and it hasn’t.”

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There also needs to be a continued focus on vaccination in both B.C. and globally, said infectious disease expert Dr. Brian Conway.

“Globally, what’s going to hurt us right now is the vaccination rates that are occurring throughout the world,” said Conway, president and medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre.

Vaccination rates in less-developed countries remain low enough that there are high levels of community spread of COVID-19, which is what causes he mutations that leads new variants.

“And that’s the one thing that could halt our recovery here,” Conway said. “So we have every interest to develop strategies to now vaccinate the world more efficiently.”

depenner@postmedia.com

twitter.com/derrickpenner


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23Jan

COVID-19: Tools to combat Omicron remain unchanged as province shifts pandemic strategy, expert says

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Wear a mask and distance in indoor public spaces, wash your hands often and stay home if you’re sick. Ventilation of indoor spaces is also important.

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B.C. has changed its strategy on how it will manage COVID-19, shortening isolation times, tightening eligibility for testing and doing away with contact tracing.

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The changes are taking place as the rapidly transmissible Omicron variant has exploded in B.C., but with evidence that it causes less severe illness in most people and a belief that the latest wave peaked earlier in January.

The changes have caused some confusion.

Dr. Brian Conway, president and medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre, say, however, that in the face of these changes, the tools to provide protection from infection have changed little.

Wear a mask and distance in indoor public spaces, wash your hands often and stay home if you’re sick. Ventilation of indoor spaces is also important.

If you’re not vaccinated for COVID, get vaccinated.

“I think the vaccination piece is going to continue to be key,” says Conway.

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While vaccination rates are high in B.C., there are still several hundred thousand people who have chosen not get vaccinated, noted Conway.

And there are blank spots, he said.

As part of the work the infectious disease centre does, it canvassed a single room occupancy hotel in the Downtown Eastside where it found that 30 of 100 residents hadn’t been vaccinated even though health authorities believed they had very good coverage.

More than 10.3 million jabs have been delivered in the province, with 90 per cent of those 12 and older fully vaccinated with two doses.

“It’s a tremendous success but what we need is 15 million,” said Conway.

On Friday, in the province’s latest COVID briefing, provincial health officials noted that they continue to see a decrease and slowdown in coronavirus cases and “tentatively” a slowing down in hospital admissions.

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However, officials noted that cases and hospitalizations remain high relative to previous levels during the pandemic.

A similar scenario is playing out in other provinces in Canada, including Ontario, and in some countries such as South Africa and the U.K.

B.C. modelling presented earlier this month showed hospitalizations dropping off to a handful of cases a day by mid-February.

As a result of Omicron, the province has made a number of changes in how it will manage the pandemic. Those include dropping contract tracing because of the variant’s shorter incubation period, dispensing with testing to anyone with symptoms and reducing to five the number of days people who have COVID should isolate unless symptoms persist.

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Only those who are in high-risk groups — such as those 70-years-or-older or people who have compromised immune systems — are priority candidates for testing, provincial health officials have explained.

The latest data available shows Omicron  accounts for more than 96 per cent of cases, overtaking the previous Delta variant.

“I absolutely recognize this is a shift, and it means we have to change our way of thinking that we have been working on so intently together for the last two years,” says Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s health officer.

COVID will now be managed much more like other respiratory illnesses such as the flu or even the common cold, said Henry.

Conway noted COVID hasn’t yet moved from the pandemic stage to an endemic illness were transmission level is lower, predictable and doesn’t overwhelm the health-care system.

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There may be a better idea of when the endemic level might happen by the summer, said Conway.

He cautioned, however, that the worldwide vaccination rate is nowhere near where it needs to be to prevent new variants from emerging.

In Africa, most of the countries have rates of less than 20 per cent for at least one dose of vaccine. In India, for example, only about half of the population is fully vaccinated.

Conway said that this reality underscores the need for those who aren’t vaccinated in B.C. to do so.

ghoekstra@postmedia.com

twitter.com/gordon_hoekstra


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22Jan

COVID-19 update for Jan. 22-23: B.C. sees first glimmer of

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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 Jan. 22-23, 2022.

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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 Jan. 21:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 308,079 (33,997 active)
• New cases: 2,364
• Total deaths: 2,529 (nine new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 924
• Intensive care: 130
• Total vaccinations: 4,457,647 received first dose (89.4% of eligible pop. 5+); 4,162,591 second doses (83.5%); 1,752,704 third doses (40.5%)
• Recovered from acute infection: 269,137
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 62

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IN-DEPTH:   Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus in 2021 | in 2020


B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS

COVID-19: B.C.’s vaccine passport is here and this is how it works

COVID-19: Afraid of needles? Here’s how to overcome your fear and get vaccinated

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.

Care home providers concerned public health not doing enough to protect seniors

B.C.’s provincial health officer said Friday that data shows seniors over age 80 are 50 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than any other age group but care-providers are concerned that public health hasn’t done enough to ensure current practice is managing that risk.

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Health officials admit a shortage of rapid tests means essential visitors are no longer being tested before entering some long-term-care homes.

Last month, Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered long-term-care homes to test every essential visitor before every visit, but, on Friday, she said they’re not required to do so right now.

“We will not be denying people those important visits because of a lack of access to rapid tests,” said Henry. “We will be doing the symptom screening so that people can be prioritized who are newer visitors and if there’s no test kits at all, then (we will be) going back to what we have been using all along, which is the screening for symptoms,” she explained.

That means visitors will be asked a series of questions including if they’re feeling unwell before being allowed to enter a care home.

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Read full story here .

— Lisa Cordasco

‘Flu-ization’: Why Omicron is causing some countries to treat COVID like the flu

Countries across Europe are announcing that they are officially going to start abandoning extraordinary pandemic measures and begin treating COVID-19 like the flu.

“Science has given us the answer to protect ourselves,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a recent radio interview . “We have to evaluate the evolution of COVID from pandemic to an endemic illness.”

It’s a sharp turnaround for a country that first met the pandemic with one of the world’s harshest lockdowns . For three months in 2020, Spaniards weren’t even allowed to leave their homes for a walk. Spanish media has referred to the new policy as the “ flu-ization ” of COVID-19.

The U.K., Switzerland, Portugal and Ireland have all announced similar policies in line with the Spanish example. In South Africa, which discovered the Omicron variant, health officials are now predicting that COVID-19 has basically run its course.

“I think we’ve reached a turning point in this pandemic. What we need to do is learn to live with the virus and get back to as much of a normal society as is possible,” prominent South African vaccine allergist Shabir Madhi told NPR last week.

On Friday, Canada saw its first glimmers of a “flu-ization” policy when B.C. announced that it was suspending contact tracing and urging most people with symptoms to simply stay home until they felt better.

Read full story here.

— Postmedia News

Omicron may be peaking but COVID-19 isn’t done with us yet: Tam

Canada’s chief public health officer says there are positive signs the Omicron wave is peaking in this country, but no one should start choreographing a COVID-19 victory dance.

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“There is no doubt that nobody wants to have all these restrictive measures anymore, and Omicron may or may not have put us one step toward that new reality,” Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday during a COVID-19 briefing in Ottawa.

“So I think we need to plan for the different scenarios and just be ready for a time of emergence of new variants. But we’ve got to move on and see how we can make our societal functions closer to what they were before the pandemic.”

Tam said that in the last week, case rates, the share of tests coming back positive, and wastewater surveillance are all showing “early indications” that Omicron has peaked nationally.

Read full story here .

— Canadian Press



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B.C. VACCINE TRACKER

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WHAT’S HAPPENING ACROSS CANADA


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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Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

21Jan

‘It feels like betrayal’: Vulnerable families respond to COVID-19 changes as B.C.’s top doctor defends approach

by admin


When the provincial health officer told British Columbians she was removing isolation requirements and testing for most of the population and compared managing COVID-19 in similar terms to the flu or common cold, many people were shocked and some instantly alarmed. 


Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed people who are extremely clinically vulnerable, assuring them they would have access to COVID-19 testing and that they should get tested right away if they develop symptoms, so they can access treatment. In fact, she emphasized that the general public “have a responsibility to try and minimize our risk to them by doing the things that help protect us and protect others,” namely getting vaccinated and following public health orders.


For many, however, those statements were overshadowed by Henry’s discussion of the need for balance and the reduced severity of the Omicron variant in comparison to the deadlier Delta strain – particularly at a time the health-care system is struggling to maintain basic levels of care


“It feels like betrayal, like we’re just forgotten and left to the side,” said Laesa Kim, whose kindergartner has multiple serious medical conditions and had open-heart surgery in the fall.


“I’m cautious with my child, but I still want her attending school and socializing and doing the things she should be doing,” said the Langley mother of two. “People still send sick kids to school and think it’s no big deal and then she’s home for three weeks recovering from a cold.”


Jeremy Franta is a terminal cancer patient in Delta. He hasn’t sent his daughters to school yet because most of their friends have had COVID-19 in the past two weeks and he’s terrified of the potential consequences.


“Do we send my kids (to school), and they bring it to me, they kill me? I won’t care, but my kids have to live with that,” he said. “I feel the clinically vulnerable have been left behind and nobody cares. We’re left in the wind to fend for ourselves.”


MEDICAL COMMUNITY AND EXPERTS SURPRISED BY TIMING


One of British Columbia’s most respected pandemic analysts pointed out that – while testing is a useful barometer for public health officials and academics to track and assess the virus’s patterns, resistance to vaccines and new characteristics – a test does not change whether someone should or can get medical treatment.


SFU professor Caroline Colijn and her colleagues on the B.C. COVID-19 Modelling Group also aren’t convinced we’ve seen peak hospitalizations from the Omicron wave, and she emphasized the consequences of starting to reopen society for most but not all.


“I think we should be paying attention to unfair burdens and asking people who may be very at-risk to simply shield,” said Colijn. “Impacts on those who can’t work from home or those who are at risk of a more severe illness from COVID-19, I think we do have to consider that and consider that as numbers decrease they may also get concentrated in higher-risk groups.”


Disability analyst and researcher Gabrielle Peters wants the public to understand these aren’t theoretical issues.


“Our individual ability to mitigate risk varies and is impacted by multiple things like poverty, the type work you do, the housing you live in and supports you require. B.C. has failed to address any of this,” she said. “There has been an ableist bias to B.C.’s methodology for identifying disabled people’s risks and addressing our needs all along. We have done our best to survive in spite of this.”


Past president of Doctors of BC Dr. Matthew Chow said while he expected the transition to endemic management of the virus, he was surprised to see it now.


“I certainly hear from some colleagues who are concerned that we’re moving too quickly,” he said. “But I’ll tell you I also hear from some colleagues who say, ‘Let’s get on with this, this is such a pervasive infection now, you can assume everyone’s been exposed or will be exposed,’ so there’s no point in further restrictions at this time because they’re not likely to be meaningful.”


Chow pointed out that it’s understandable and acceptable that people feel unsettled by the transition and that it’ll take time to adjust, but he believes the decision wasn’t made lightly.


“I’m glad I’m not in the shoes of public health and that I’m not in Dr. Henry’s shoes, because it’s a tough call as to when to deliver that content,” he said. “It’s become increasingly obvious the approach would have to change unless we wanted a society-wide shutdown.”


PROVINCIAL HEALTH OFFICER INSISTS GOALS REMAIN THE SAME


As she maintained the somewhat contradictory messaging of public health measures like bar closures and mask mandates while also encouraging people to socialize and characterizing COVID-19 management like other respiratory viruses, CTV News asked Henry if her goals remain the same.


She replied that they remain unchanged: To reduce serious illness and death, to preserve the health-care system and to minimize societal disruption.


When asked whether the lack of isolation and testing indicated she had given up on trying to control the virus and switched to endemic mode, she denied that’s the case.


“We are clearly not in a place where it’s endemic right now. What we are doing is adjusting to the changes that we’ve seen from the new variant,” Henry insisted, noting that contact tracing and testing had reduced purpose with the virus spreading faster and with a shorter incubation period, and with fewer people needing hospital care relative to overall cases.


But she also continued to talk about COVID-19 in the long-term; diseases are considered endemic when regularly found in certain areas, but with low and stable hospitalizations. 


“We cannot eliminate all risk, and I think that’s something that we need to understand and accept as this virus has changed and has become part of what we will be living with for years to come,” said Henry.


Without a clear plan or specific advice for vulnerable British Columbians, they’re left waiting to see when their situation will be acknowledged or how long they’re expected to seal themselves away while the rest of us get closer to our normal lives.


“So many people like to peg family members with risk factors are just fearful and yes, we are fearful because we’ve seen first-hand what any number of viruses can do to our loved ones,” said Kim. “But we’re also wanting them to live life – I’m not fearful to the extent I want to keep (my kindergartner) in the house for the rest of her life.” 

21Jan

COVID-19 update for Jan. 21: Here’s the latest on coronavirus in B.C.

by admin

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 Jan. 21, 2022.

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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 Jan. 20:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 305,715 (34,835 active)
• New cases: 2,150
• Total deaths: 2,520 (15 new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 891
• Intensive care: 119
• Total vaccinations: 4,455,046 received first dose (89.4% of eligible pop. 5+); 4,161,148 second doses (83.5%); 1,700,206 third doses (36.7%)
• Recovered from acute infection: 265,765
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 58

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IN-DEPTH:   Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus in 2021 | in 2020


B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS

COVID-19: B.C.’s vaccine passport is here and this is how it works

COVID-19: Afraid of needles? Here’s how to overcome your fear and get vaccinated

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. or later – 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.

B.C. death rate climbing despite a drop in active cases
B.C. has seen a significant spike in COVID-19 deaths to start the new year, with 15 more people succumbing to the disease in the latest daily report despite active cases being on the decline.

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It brings the total deaths reported in the past week to 58, a significant jump over the early days of the rise of the Omicron variant. By comparison, 41 deaths were reported in the week prior and just seven in the first week of 2022.

Despite all those losses, the number of people in hospital and intensive care remains high: 891 people were in hospital in B.C. on Thursday, with 119 in ICU. Those numbers have been consistent all week, never dropping below 850 in hospital or 110 in intensive care.

Read full story here

— Joseph Ruttle

‘I feel unsafe’: B.C. kids exposed to COVID-19 can go to daycare if symptom-free
Parents and child care providers are questioning the province’s decision to remove the quarantine requirements for young children who come into close contact with COVID-19 cases.

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“I’m angry,” said Natasha Malone, who runs a private daycare, Parkridge Early Learning Centre, at her home in Prince George.

“I first learned of the news through my television screen, along with the rest of the province, and not before,” the 32-year-old said.

The provincial health officer announced the change Tuesday, attributing it to the Omicron variant, which she said is causing milder and shorter illnesses among B.C.’s infected.

Read the full story here.

— Sarah Grochowski

Fewer outbreaks declared in care homes as medical officers use discretionary power
Dozens of care homes in Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health are no longer being declared COVID-19 outbreak sites unless the spread of the virus is unable to be contained.

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Before the Omicron wave hit, outbreaks were declared in care homes when a single staff member or resident was confirmed to have COVID-19.

The new approach by regional health authorities is causing confusion and concern among care home operators and B.C.’s seniors advocate.

Read the full story here.

— Lisa Cordasco



DEATHS BY HEALTH AUTHORITY


B.C. VACCINE TRACKER


WHAT’S HAPPENING ACROSS CANADA


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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Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

20Jan

COVID-19: B.C. death rate climbing despite a drop in active cases

by admin

Total deaths reported in the past week to 58, a significant jump over the early days of the rise of the Omicron variant. By comparison, 41 deaths were reported in the week prior.

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B.C. has seen a significant spike in COVID-19 deaths to start the new year, with 15 more people succumbing to the disease in the latest daily report despite active cases being on the decline.

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The deaths reported in the past 24 hours have been evenly distributed across four of B.C.’s five health regions: five in Fraser Health, four in Vancouver Coastal, two in Interior Health and four in Island Health. No deaths were reported today in Northern Health.

It brings the total deaths reported in the past week to 58, a significant jump over the early days of the rise of the Omicron variant. By comparison, 41 deaths were reported in the week prior and just seven in the first week of 2022.

Despite all those losses, the number of people in hospital and intensive care remains high: 891 people were in hospital in B.C. on Thursday, with 119 in ICU. Those numbers have been consistent all week, never dropping below 850 in hospital or 110 in intensive care.

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The provincial health officer has consistently warned intensive care admissions and deaths tend to lag behind any surge in infections, and that appears to be the case in recent weeks.

Also, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is very likely a huge understatement of the number of new infections — a result of evolving testing priorities and the ease of transmission of the new variant. Reported active cases were 34,835 on Thursday, down from a weekly high of over 37,000 Tuesday.

One thing has been consistent, even as many fully vaccinated people catch COVID-19. The chance of being hospitalized or landing in an ICU is much lower if you’re vaccinated.

In the past two weeks, about 72 people for every 100,000 population were hospitalized with COVID-19 among the unvaccinated, compared with about 45 per 100,000 partly vaccinated people and 17 per 100,000 who were fully vaxxed. Put another way, during that stretch you were more than four times as likely to wind up in hospital if you hadn’t got your shots.

Outbreaks in long-term and acute care continue to be an issue, with a revolving door of facilities declaring outbreaks over and reporting new ones. There are currently 58 confirmed outbreaks in the province, nearly half of them in Fraser Health.


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Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email vantips@postmedia.com.

20Jan

COVID-19 update for Jan. 20: Vancouver police board to review staff vaccine policy | Price hikes expected as vaccine mandate for truckers take effect | 895 hospitalizations, 13 deaths

by admin

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 Jan. 20, 2022.

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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 Jan. 19:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 303,565 (35,570 active)
• New cases: 2,387
• Total deaths: 2,505 (13 new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 895
• Intensive care: 115
• Total vaccinations: 4,451,945 received first dose (89.3% of eligible pop. 5+); 4,159,043 second doses (83.4%); 1,646,143 third doses (35.5%)
• Recovered from acute infection: 262,591
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 56

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IN-DEPTH:   Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus in 2021 | in 2020


B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS

COVID-19: B.C.’s vaccine passport is here and this is how it works

COVID-19: Afraid of needles? Here’s how to overcome your fear and get vaccinated

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. or later – 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.

Vancouver police board to review staff vaccine policy after complaints

The Vancouver police board will look into its decision not to mandate vaccines for VPD members after three complaints critical of the policy, including one that came from a family member of one of its own officers.

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“I’m a resident of Vancouver and a family member of a VPD member,” reads one of the complaints. “I’d like to register my disappointment with the decision to not require vaccination for VPD officers.

“This decision further reduces public trust in the VPD, at a time when trust is in short supply.”

The board plans to discuss the decision to allow an exemption to the city’s vaccination mandate for front-line police officers at a meeting on Thursday.

Under the current policy, Vancouver police are encouraged to get immunized and were expected to provide proof by the end of last year. But unvaccinated officers are still considered “fit for duty” if they undergo rapid testing for COVID-19. It is out of step with many other Canadian policing agencies and with the city’s own broad mandate for staff.

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Read the full story here .

— Joe Ruttle

Produce prices in B.C. expected to rise as vaccine mandate for truckers takes effect

B.C. cooks may need to embrace cabbage and kale this winter as a vaccine mandate for truck drivers crossing the Canada-U.S. border is expected to intensify supply chain issues and send food prices soaring.

The federal mandate, which came into effect on Jan. 15, requires Canadian truckers returning to Canada to be vaccinated to avoid quarantine, while unvaccinated American truckers are being turned back at the border. The U.S. is set to enact its own vaccine mandate on Jan. 22, taking as many as 16,000 drivers off the road, according to the Canadian Trucking Association.

“Without the mandate, there was already stress on the supply chain,” said Mick Tkac, produce director for SPUD.ca, a grocery delivery service specializing in local and organic food. He cited cold weather across North America and staff shortages due to COVID-19 for expected price increases.

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“There is a shortage of truckers in Canada and the U.S., so we’ve been seeing late arrivals, small gaps (in product availability), and wholesalers telling us about trucks that were cancelled at the last minute,” he said.

Price hikes are expected to follow. Sending one truckload of fresh produce from California or Arizona to Canada now costs $9,500, up from an average of $7,000, according to North American Produce Buyers. That works out to an additional charge of 12 Canadian cents per head of lettuce.

Read full story here.

— Glenda Luymes

Unnecessary restrictions for long term care visits causing anguish for B.C. families, advocates say

Families, seniors advocates and caregiver organizations say the province’s policy on long term care visits is outdated and needs to change.

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They say the rules that limit who can spend time with loved ones in long term care have needlessly restricted access with devastating results for residents and their families.

“I have memories of my father trying to claw his way out of a window, upset that he could not get to me during a window visit,” said Becky Reichert, whose father passed away in 2020 but whose mother remains in long term care at the same facility in Vancouver.

Reichert said she was eventually granted essential visitor status to see her father shortly before he died.

“I was not deemed essential until he was unresponsive and that is something I will never, ever get over,” she said.  “And now I am feeling like I am back in 2020 again.”

Read full story here .

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— Lisa Cordasco

NHL, NHLPA to eliminate testing among asymptomatic individuals

Perhaps it’s a sign that life, or at least life in the National Hockey League, is returning to normal.

With most teams having dealt with COVID-19 and the Omicron variant outbreak, and the mild impact of the virus, the NHL announced Tuesday that it would discontinue testing on asymptomatic individuals following the All-Star break early next month and that testing will only be required for cross-border travel and if a person develops symptoms.

A positive result would still necessitate entering COVID-19 protocol, and an isolation period of five days for a vaccinated individual — which had been reduced from 10 days by the NHL in late December.

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All of this is pending that positive test results continue to decline within the NHL and requires an agreement from the NHL’s and NHLPA’s medical experts by Jan. 31.

Read full story here .

— Postmedia News



DEATHS BY HEALTH AUTHORITY


B.C. VACCINE TRACKER


WHAT’S HAPPENING ACROSS CANADA


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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Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

19Jan

COVID-19: Bars and other B.C. businesses affected by closures to receive more help

by admin

Businesses ordered by the provincial health officer to remain closed until at least Feb. 16 are eligible for the larger amount, while those that have been allowed to reopen can claim up to $10,000.

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More financial help is on the way for B.C. businesses forced to stay closed for at least another month as the province tries to contain the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

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A statement from the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation says businesses including event venues, bars, nightclubs and lounges that don’t serve full meals are eligible for grants of up to $20,000, based on staffing levels.

The funds, which double the amount available to those businesses, can be claimed through the provincial COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant. Businesses ordered by the provincial health officer to remain closed until at least Feb. 16 are eligible for the larger amount, while those that have been allowed to reopen can claim up to $10,000.

The province says the $4 million extension of the grant program complements existing federal assistance, including the Local Lockdown Program and the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit, which provide wage, rent or income support to those affected by pandemic-related closures.

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Ravi Kahlon, minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, says the province has increased the funding because some sectors are still affected by public health measures.

Omicron is also forcing service changes in the Northern, Interior and Island health authorities. All three have announced adjustments in anticipation of staffing shortages and an increase in patients because of a wave of COVID infections. Each authority has postponed surgeries, while Island and Interior Health are relocating staff in an effort to maintain safe patient care.

Interior Health says in a news release that it has closed in-patient services at health centres in Clearwater, Invermere and Lillooet to stabilize emergency departments. It says those who have been affected by the closures will be contacted.

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On Vancouver Island, staffing levels at larger acute care sites are being beefed up by moving ambulatory and surgical workers to areas of critical demand, Island Health says.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has warned that a peak of COVID patients will be arriving in hospitals this week after infections in the community topped out earlier this month.

B.C. reported 2,387 new cases of COVID-19 and 35,770 active cases Wednesday. Henry recently said the province has reached its testing capacity and there are likely more unconfirmed cases in the community.

The government said 895 people were in hospital, 115 of them in intensive care.

The Health Ministry said 56 health-care facilities had outbreaks, most of them in long-term-care facilities.

It said 13 more people have died, bringing the death toll to 2,505.


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Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

19Jan

COVID-19 update for Jan. 19: Clash over trucker vaccine mandate grows | More than one in four Canadians support jail time for unvaxxed: Poll | 854 hospitalizations

by admin

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

Article content

Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for Jan. 19, 2022.

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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 Jan. 18:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 301,121 (37,167 active)
• New cases: 2,032
• Total deaths: 2,492 (two new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 854
• Intensive care: 112
• Total vaccinations: 4,448,921 received first dose (89.3% of eligible pop. 5+); 4,157,150 second doses (83.4%); 1,591,505 third doses (34.3%)
• Recovered from acute infection: 258,417
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 50

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IN-DEPTH:   Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus in 2021 | in 2020


B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS

COVID-19: B.C.’s vaccine passport is here and this is how it works

COVID-19: Afraid of needles? Here’s how to overcome your fear and get vaccinated

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. or later – 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.

More than one in four Canadians support jail time for unvaccinated: poll

Many Canadians are in favour of harsh punishments for the unvaccinated, with 37 per cent saying in a new poll it would be acceptable to deny them publicly-funded health care — and 27 per cent that it would be OK to go as far as a short jail sentence.

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“A majority of Canadians have little sympathy for the unvaccinated,” said John Wright, executive vice-president of Maru Public Opinion, which conducted the poll on Jan. 14 and 15. Maru surveyed an online panel of 1,506 Canadians.

It found two-thirds of Canadians are in favour of mandatory vaccines for everyone over the age of five. Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said earlier this month that mandatory vaccinations are on the horizon, and something that provincial governments should be discussing.

The poll also asked about various punitive measures for those who would refuse a mandatory vaccination. Thirty-three per cent of the survey respondents said it would be acceptable to not allow them to renew their drivers’ licence.

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Another 37 per cent said it would be ok to refuse to “allow them access to any publicly funded hospital/medical services.” More than a quarter, 27 per cent, said it would be acceptable to make them serve up to five days “as part of a jail sentence for endangering others/overwhelming (the) healthcare system.”

Read full story here.

— Postmedia News

Securing the supply chain or breaking it? Clash over trucker vaccine mandate grows

As fears grow that Canadians can expect a jump in food prices as well as empty shelves at the grocery stores, the Liberals are claiming that a contentious mandate requiring truck drivers to be fully vaccinated is the best way to protect supply chains.

“One of the biggest threats to our supply chain is indeed the pandemic and the best tool to end the fight against this virus is vaccination,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in an email to National Post.

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But industry insiders and analysts warn that it will be Canadians who suffer under the new rules.

“Ultimately, it’s the consumer that pays for this,” said George Pitsikoulis, president and chief executive officer of Montreal-based distributor Canadawide Fruits.

As of Saturday, trucks crossing into Canada must be driven by a fully vaccinated driver and assuming the Joe Biden administration doesn’t have a change of heart, a comparable mandate for U.S.-bound truckers is set to go into effect this weekend.

Read full story here.

— Postmedia News

B.C. health officials admit problems with COVID rapid test deployment

Health officials are walking back claims they made last week about the deployment of rapid antigen tests to long term care homes as well as the number of PCR tests that are being conducted at provincial testing sites.

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On Friday, Health Minister Adrian Dix said 200,000 rapid tests were deployed to care homes, but on the same day, Island Health reported its supplies were running low.

The health authority advised care home operators to “prioritize their current supply of rapid tests to ensure they are able to accommodate all essential visitors until further supply and timing of delivery is confirmed.”

On Tuesday, Dix did not answer whether other health regions were running low on test kits but insisted it was a short-term problem.

“If there are short-term concerns I’ll be happy to look into that, but I think those supplies are going to be in place,” he said.  “I expect those rapid tests will be distributed where there may be an interim supply problem, but I think the supply issue should largely be resolved soon.”

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Read the full story here.

— Lisa Cordasco

B.C. gym owners thrilled to open again, do ‘what we love’

Sara Hodson didn’t expect to be thanked by Dr. Bonnie Henry for her work with health authorities at Tuesday’s announcement that gyms and fitness studios can gradually reopen on Jan. 20.

The Health Ministry’s new order requires seven square metres of space per person within a group class for both individual and group classes. All group fitness and exercise classes have a capacity limit of 25 people. Vaccine cards and masks are required for staff and encouraged for patrons.

Hodson, president of the Fitness Council of Canada, said she was just relieved.

“We were very satisfied, and relieved, that our voices were heard and our industry was given the respect it deserved,” said Hodson, who, along with her colleague Carl Ulmer has worked closely with the Ministry of Health to have gyms safely reopened.

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“We approached our advocacy in a sound, calm manner, with a goal to understand what provincial health needed and to prove we could do that and keep staff and members and the public safe,” said Hodson, who also owns Live Well Exercise, a White Rock gym that caters to those who need extra support or have barriers — whether physical or psychological — to exercise.

Restrictions on bars and nightclubs — which are closed if there is no food service — will remain. Capacity limits of 50 per cent at venues like theatres, sports events and swimming pools will also remain.

Read full story here.

— Denise Ryan



DEATHS BY HEALTH AUTHORITY


B.C. VACCINE TRACKER


WHAT’S HAPPENING ACROSS CANADA


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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Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

18Jan

COVID-19 update for Jan. 18: Update on health measures at 1:30 p.m. | Restrictions, closures to remain in place | Nurses, doctors exhausted as next peak comes | Young child dies in Alberta

by admin

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

Article content

Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for Jan. 18, 2022.

Advertisement

Article content

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 Jan. 17:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 299,146 (35,985 active)
• New cases: 5,625 (2,383/1,733/1,509)
• Total deaths: 2,490 (33 new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 819
• Intensive care: 99
• Total vaccinations: 4,447,145 received first dose (89.2% of eligible pop. 5+); 4,155,929 second doses (83.4%); 1,544,191 third doses (33.3%)
• Recovered from acute infection: 257,677
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 50

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IN-DEPTH:   Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus in 2021 | in 2020


B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS

COVID-19: B.C.’s vaccine passport is here and this is how it works

COVID-19: Afraid of needles? Here’s how to overcome your fear and get vaccinated

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.

1:30 p.m. – Health officials are set to share details of continued restrictions

Health officials are expected to update the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries across the province, as well as provide details about business closures that have been extended indefinitely.

Closures, gathering restrictions to remain in place in B.C.

VICTORIA — British Columbia’s top doctor has extended a COVID-19 order that will keep gyms and fitness centres closed and limit gatherings at events and restaurants.

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Dr. Bonnie Henry is expected to provide more details on her orders Tuesday, when an existing order from Dec. 22 was set to expire. She said last week that she believed COVID-19 hospitalizations would spike after overall cases peaked.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement on Twitter Monday that the updated order was made to ensure the health officer’s restrictions were in place until she spoke about them on Tuesday. The previous order expired at 12:01 a.m., he noted.

B.C. reported 5,625 new cases of COVID-19 over the last three days, with 819 people in hospital, 99 of them in intensive care.

It said over 77 per cent of those hospitalized were fully vaccinated.

The Health Ministry says 22 more people have died after becoming infected, for a total of 2,490 deaths.

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It said 50 health-care facilities have ongoing outbreaks, mostly in long-term care homes.

— The Canadian Press

Health officers get power to order school boards to gather vaccination info

B.C. public school trustees and teachers were caught off-guard on Monday when the provincial health officer issued an order around vaccination status reporting for school staff members.

Stephanie Higginson, president of the B.C. School Trustees Association, said the order on vaccination information “caught us all by surprise and we are still waiting for more information on what this looks like.”

Read the full story here

— David Carrigg

Nurses, doctors exhausted as next peak comes this week

While the most challenging days of COVID-19 are predicted to be ahead for British Columbia’s health-care system, representatives for doctors and nurses say their members are on the verge of a possible collapse.

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Doctors of BC president Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh said it has been an overwhelming three years for her members.

“I am hearing from some doctors who are just ready to quit,” she said in an interview.

Read the full story here

— The Canadian Press

Alberta child dies of COVID-19 as hospitalizations soar

A child between the ages of five and nine with no pre-existing conditions was one of 23 COVID-19-related deaths over the past three days reported by the province.

Alberta Health wouldn’t divulge the youngster’s gender or location of the death that occurred Jan. 12 citing privacy concerns. Many physicians say the highly infectious Omicron variant is sending more children to hospital than in previous waves of the pandemic.

Read the full story here

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— Calgary Herald



DEATHS BY HEALTH AUTHORITY


B.C. VACCINE TRACKER


WHAT’S HAPPENING ACROSS CANADA


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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Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

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