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 Feb. 24, 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 Feb. 23

• Total number of confirmed cases: 77,822 (4,677 active)
• New cases since Feb. 22: 559
• Total deaths: 1,336 (1 new)
• Hospitalized cases: 238
• Intensive care: 69
• Total vaccinations: 224,350 doses, of which 58,896 are second doses.
• Cases under public health monitoring: 7,881
• Recovered: 71,753
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 17

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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.

8:45 p.m. — Outbreak declared at two more VGH units

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared in two in-patient units at Vancouver General Hospital on Tuesday night.

The outbreaks are in units T14G and T11D in the Jim Pattison Pavilion, according to a release by Vancouver Coastal Health.

This is in addition to unit T10C, which had an outbreak on Sunday. A total of 16 patients and 13 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

The units are closed to new admissions and transfers.

3 p.m. — B.C. reports 559 new cases, one death

British Columbia reported 559 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

There have been 77,822 confirmed cases in the province since the start of the pandemic.

One death was reported on Tuesday as the province’s death toll from the disease reached 1,336.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said none of the new cases occurred in long-term care facilities, which she says proves the effectiveness of the vaccines.

Residents and staff at long-term care facilities were the first to be vaccinated in the province.

“Today we have had no new cases in long-term care  or assisted living in the province, and we had no deaths in long term care in the last 24 hours. The single person who died in the last 24 hours was in an acute care facility,” she said.

“This is a success that we need to appreciate and celebrate, even as we are preparing now to be to be able to provide more vaccines to more people in our communities.”

You can watch the briefing live here:

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2:30 p.m. — Interior Health says Williams Lake cluster contained

Interior Health says a COVID-19 community cluster in the Williams Lake area has been contained.

A total of 421 people tested positive in the Cariboo-Chilcotin local health area. Interior Health says just 33 of the cases remain active and the infected individuals are in isolation.

“Since reporting this cluster, 388 people have recovered,” the health authority said Tuesday.

2 p.m.  — Canada’s top doctor says vaccines could allow toughest restrictions to lift before September

Canada’s chief public health officer says results from COVID-19 vaccinations are so encouraging that she thinks the need for massive lockdowns could be over before the end of the summer.

“It will it even (be) before September, I think, depending on a number of factors, such as vaccine uptake, ongoing monitoring of other variants, and how vaccine coverage is provided,” Dr. Theresa Tam said Tuesday at a news conference in Ottawa.

She said personal protective choices like masks and limited in-person contacts could be with us longer but those will depend on how well vaccines prevent not just serious illness and death, but also the spread of the novel coronavirus. Data on transmission is still being analyzed, said Tam.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out a plan for restoring life in the United Kingdom Tuesday that predicted the worst of its lockdowns could be over by June 21. The U.K. is far ahead of Canada on vaccinations, aiming to have every adult receive their first dose by the end of July.

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Canada’s current goal is for that to happen by the end of September, with interim goals to vaccinate at least three million people by the end of March and more than 14 million people by the end of June.

Tam wouldn’t give a specific date for when lockdowns will no longer be needed, but this is the closest Canadian officials have ever come to putting any kind timeline on when wide-scale restrictions will actually end. Tam however warned that the Sars-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is tricky and prone to sudden turns.

“I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of what it might deal us in terms of surprises,” she said.

— The Canadian Press

2 p.m. — Surrey teachers march over concerns of COVID-19 variants in schools

Teachers and staff at a Surrey elementary school held a march Tuesday morning to express safety concerns after COVID-19 variants were identified at seven schools in the Fraser Health region.

About 40 to 50 people, all wearing masks and clad in red, some carrying flags, walked in a physically-distanced line into Ecole Woodward Hill before classes started.

Gioia Breda, an integration support teacher at the south Newton elementary school, said the march was a statement of solidarity with other schools affected by the variant as well as a message that staff at Woodward Hill are on “high alert.”

8:30 a.m. — Nearly 9 in 10 Canadians say they will take COVID-19 vaccine: poll

Nearly nine out of 10 Canadians will take a COVID-19 vaccine if offered, four out of 10 said their mental health has deteriorated since the pandemic began, and most report feeling closer to their families but further from the friends, according to a national online survey by the polling firm Leger commissioned by Postmedia.

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The mental health toll has been particularly pronounced on younger people and women, the survey found. Nearly half of those aged 18-34 (47 per cent) said their mental health had deteriorated since the arrival of COVID-19. Women overall reported almost the same effect, with 46 per cent saying their mental health was worse, including eight per cent who described it as “much worse.”

Despite this, less than a quarter of respondents said they had sought help for their mental health issues. Of the 23 per cent who did ask for help, 88 per cent turned to a health professional, while about a third said they looked to friends and/or family members for support.

“I do think when we wipe our brows and breathe a sigh of relief that we’re out of the pandemic, the mental health repercussions are going to be ones that we’re going to realize will be like a pandemic ‘hangover’,” said Andrew Enns, a vice-president with Leger.

“We’re measuring the pandemic by infections and deaths — not wrongly — but that’s been our focus and I do wonder when you see 40 per cent of the population saying they’re worse off, what that’s going to mean for the rest of us.”

— The Ottawa Citizen

8:30 a.m. — Double-lung transplant recipient dies after getting COVID-19 from donor

Three days after a woman received a double-lung transplant at a Michigan hospital last fall, she became seriously ill. She had difficulty breathing and a high fever, and her lung scans showed pneumonia — all symptoms of a severe case of covid-19.

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When a nasal swab test for the virus came back negative, the woman’s doctor, Daniel Kaul, was not convinced she did not have the coronavirus. So, Kaul dug deeper. He ordered a coronavirus test of a sample collected from the woman’s new lungs.

When the results came back positive, Kaul wondered, “Could this come from the donor?”

Additional tests would soon confirm Kaul’s suspicions: The unnamed woman, who died of COVID-19 two months later, had indeed contracted the virus from her donor’s infected lungs. Kaul’s discovery was published in a peer-reviewed paper by the American Journal of Transplantation earlier this month.

“This is at least the first proven case of transmission of COVID-19 via organ transplantation in the United States,” Kaul, director of Michigan Medicine’s transplant infectious disease service, told The Washington Post on Monday night.

— The Washington Post

7:30 a.m. — New studies to examine COVID-19 antibodies among prison staff and population

The federal government is spending $1.2 million on four studies looking at COVID-19 antibodies among prisoners and correctional service employees across Canada, including provincial prisons in B.C., Saskatchewan and Quebec.

The studies will determine how many of these individuals have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, which Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, says will help improve strategies to prevent the introduction and spread of the virus within the facilities. It will also help in planning for vaccine follow-ups in congregate settings.

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The studies will be funded through the federal government’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force.

6 a.m. — COLUMN: In defence of snowbirds

National Post columnist Tristin Hopper on why Canada’s snowbird-enraging quarantine measures may not be serving public health the way Ottawa claims.

6 a.m. — International air passengers grumble as they’re forced into quarantine hotels on new rule’s first day

Michelle Fernandes could almost see her home from the steps of the Sheraton Four Points hotel near Toronto Pearson International Airport on Monday.

She had flown all the way from New Delhi that morning, but lives nearby in Mississauga, the suburban municipality where Pearson is located.

Yet instead of heading to her house, she was checking into an airport hotel, becoming one of the first international air travellers required to quarantine in government-sanctioned accommodations for her first three days in Canada.

“I don’t think it’s necessary because I could have quarantined in my basement,” said the 31-year-old, Pearson’s tarmac and parked airliners visible over her shoulders. “It’s a full-fledged house.”

It was a common sentiment Monday as Canada put into motion one of the most dramatic measures yet to control the spread of COVID-19, a rule that has prompted talk of constitutional challenges and complaints of unlawful confinement.

— National Post

12 a.m. — No word on vaccine registration for over-80s living independently in B.C.

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It could be weeks before people aged 80 and older in B.C. get to register for a dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

On Monday, the deputy provincial health officer, Dr. Réka Gustafson, said no public timeline had been set for the next phase of B.C.’s vaccination rollout plan.

B.C.’s immunization plan has four phases, two for high-risk populations and two for the general population.

The province is coming to the end of Phase 1, which covers long-term care facility staff and residents, essential care workers and remote Indigenous communities.

Phase 2 is for seniors aged 80 and over who do not live in care, general hospital staff and vulnerable populations. This has not been activated, but is expected to be completed by the end of March.

The vaccine rollout moves to the general population in April and ought to be done by the end of September — subject to vaccine supply problems. The B.C. government has promised all people recommended to receive the vaccine will have the opportunity to get it in 2021.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says people over 80 living independently should start getting a vaccine around mid-March.

As of Sunday, 55,057 people in B.C. had been fully vaccinated with two doses. There have been 218,726 doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine administered since December. According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, the province has around 25,000 doses on hand.

— David Carrigg

12 a.m. —  VAUGHN PALMER: Details leak out about COVID mass-vaccination clinics

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Last week, Fraser Health distributed a memo with some details of the plan to medical practitioners and clinics in the region.

B.C. “aims to have mass public clinics up and running starting April 6,” reported the memo.

“Clinics to run seven days a week,” the memo continued. “Will likely utilize infrastructure at (existing) COVID-19 test sites for immunization, plus have additional clinics.”

Most British Columbians — 80 per cent — are expected to be vaccinated at the mass clinic sites. The government does not anticipate that vaccines will be administered in doctor’s offices “at this time.”

The plan calls for second doses to be administered by day 42 after the first vaccination. But that could change, in line with the emerging view that an interval of up to 90 days entails no significant risk.

Enough doses are being ordered to vaccinate 100 per cent of the target population of 4.3 million British Columbians. However, uptake is expected to be “in the 80 to 85 per cent range.”

The rollout entails a major drive to hire staff to deliver vaccines. At peak operations, clinics will require “500-plus immunizers per day,” according to Fraser Health.

— Vaughn Palmer

MONDAY

4 p.m. — Health officer reports 28 new variant cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said 28 variant cases were reported over the past three days, bringing that total to 103.

The new cases included one of the new Nigerian variant B1525, that brings that total to two.

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There have been 81 U.K. variant B117 cases reported in B.C. and 20 of the South African variant B131.

3 p.m. — No variant spread in schools shows rules are working, says B.C. education minister

B.C.’s education minister understands parents anxiety amid news that a highly contagious COVID-19 variant has been detected in seven schools in the Fraser Health region, but said the fact that those infected didn’t pass it on to others shows school safety measures are working.

“It’s very good news that the testing that has been done so far has indicated no transmission,” Jennifer Whiteside said during a press conference on Monday. “What that tells us is that our safety plans are working. Where our safety plans are adhered to, we see very low transmission rates in the schools.”

2:30 p.m. — Variant in schools means it’s time for all students in B.C. to wear masks: union

The head of the teachers’ union in B.C. is urging public health officials to expand guidelines on masks to include elementary students after seven schools reported cases involving a COVID-19 variant.

Teri Mooring of the B.C. Teachers Federation says school districts should be allowed to impose measures based on their needs, considering the variants were all found in schools in the Fraser Health region.

Variants of concern have been identified in all seven schools and health officials say testing so far indicates it is linked to the one first identified in the United Kingdom.

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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced mandatory mask guidelines earlier this month for students in middle and high schools.

Mooring says she doesn’t agree with the current directive, which says students don’t have to wear masks at their desks.

Henry has said that’s the same as in offices or restaurants, but Mooring says students sit close together and the other environments don’t compare well with schools.

— Canadian Press


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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