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 March 15, 2021.

We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on in B.C. right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly throughout the day, with developments added as they happen.

Check back here for more updates throughout the day. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.


As of the latest figures given on March 15:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 88,373 (4,987 active)
• New cases since March 12: 1,506 (Fri-Sat: 555; Sat-Sun: 491; Sun-Mon: 460)
• Total deaths: 1,407 (10 new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 269
• Intensive care: 76
• Total vaccinations: 409,103 people are immunized, of whom 87,059 have had a second dose.
• Cases under public health monitoring: Over 9,000
• Recovered: 81,890
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 14


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3 p.m. – Additional 1,506 new cases of COVID-19 reported over the weekend

On Monday, health officials announced an additional 1,506 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed from March 12 through 15.

Since the start of the pandemic in B.C. just over a year ago, there has been 88,373 cases. Of those, 4,987 remain active.

Another 10 people also died over the weekend, bringing the COVID-19 death toll up to 1,407. Another 269 people remain in hospital for treatment, of which 76 are in intensive care.

To date, there have been 469 people who have experienced adverse effects after receiving a vaccine, though there is no indication that the vaccine directly caused the adverse effects.

Of those, 46 individuals had allergic reactions to the vaccine, which Dr. Bonnie Henry said is not uncommon and to be expected with any vaccine.


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1 p.m. – ‘Eventually, but not for today,’ Trudeau says of reopening Canada-U.S. border

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waved away suggestions Monday that Canada is prepared to explore reopening its shared border with the United States any time soon.

Canadians are looking forward to the day regular cross-border travel “eventually” resumes, Trudeau told a news conference in Montreal — his first public appearance outside Ottawa in recent memory.

But while that day will inevitably arrive, it’s not imminent as long as COVID-19 continues to pose a serious risk to public health, he suggested.

“We’re all eager to be able to travel again,” Trudeau said.

“But I think we’re all going to wait patiently until such time as the health situation allows us to loosen border restrictions internationally. That’ll be eventually, but not for today.”

A congressional delegation from Washington state, led by Democratic congresswoman Suzan DelBene, has been ramping up the border pressure on U.S. president Joe Biden, citing the economic impact of the yearlong closure.

DelBene said Canadian visitors made nearly 7 million trips in 2018 into Whatcom County, which borders B.C., spending an estimated US$138 million at local stores and businesses.

She complained about the discretionary approach of some Canada Border Services Agency officers, who in some cases have turned away travellers with a legitimate reason to cross the border.

DelBene cited the specific case of Point Roberts, a Whatcom community just south of Vancouver’s Tsawwassen ferry terminal that has been cut off from the mainland for the last year.


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Point Roberts residents “need to cross through Canada to reach the mainland United States for almost anything essential to the daily functioning of their lives,” she wrote in a separate letter to Biden.

– The Canadian Press

11:45 a.m. – U.S. case increase slows to record low 

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose 1.25 per cent in the week ended Sunday, the slowest increase since the pandemic began. It was the second straight week in which the rate of new infections hit a record low.

The U.S. recorded 362,743 new infections last week, down from 417,173 in the period ended March 7, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

The slowdown comes as the U.S. vaccination effort ramps up. Last week, an average of 2.39 million doses a day were administered, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker. So far, 69.8 million Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, or roughly a quarter of the adult population.

– Bloomberg

11:30 a.m. – PM Trudeau waiting his turn for vaccine

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’ll happily take a COVID-19 vaccine when his time comes.

But Trudeau isn’t circling a date on the calendar for his turn because he says that’s not where his focus is at the moment.

Canada is scheduled to receive more than one million doses of various COVID-19 vaccines every week as vaccination efforts ramp up nationally.

Trudeau says more essential workers should be able to get vaccinated after vulnerable populations such as seniors.

He says his mother, Margaret, received her vaccine last week.

– The Canadian Press

9:45 a.m. – LIVE REPORT: British Columbia opens public vaccination clinics

The largest mass vaccination effort in the history of British Columbia begins today as the province’s COVID-19 immunization campaign, which previously only targeted front-line health workers and seniors inside assisted-living facilities, expands to include the general public.

B.C. residents 90 and older and Indigenous elders 65 and older, who booked appointments at vaccination clinics last week, are first in line to receive the vaccine today.

Vancouver Sun reporter Lori Culbert is inside the immunization clinic at Creekside Community Centre in Vancouver’s Olympic Village.


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8 a.m. – Germany joins growing list of countries to suspend AstraZeneca Vaccine

Germany suspended use of the AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine amid a growing health scare that’s creating yet another delay for the European Union’s inoculation campaign.

The country cited the recommendation of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, which oversees vaccine safety, according to a statement from the health ministry on Monday.

Germany joins about a dozen places, including Northern Italy, the Netherlands and Ireland, that have halted use of the product amid reports of serious blood clotting. It’s yet another blow to a vaccination campaign that’s proving embarrassingly slow and politically damaging for governments across the EU.

While regulators have tried to reassure the public about safety of the Astra shot, concerns are growing. Some Italian regions are reporting a high level of cancellations of vaccine appointments where the dose offered is the Astra one. Authorities in Italy have also seized hundreds of thousands of Astra shots as part of their response.

The decision of governments to pause Astra shot deliveries could delay a goal of immunizing three-quarters of the population by as much as a month. London-based research firm Airfinity Ltd. said it could push back the timing by at least a couple of weeks and potentially longer — to September instead of August.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is keeping a close eye on European reaction to a batch of COVID-19 vaccines linked to possible side effects.


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Trudeau says none of the doses Canada has received from the vaccine maker are from the problematic batch.

– Bloomberg and Canadian Press

6 a.m. – Coming week will see trickle of COVID-19 vaccine doses before floodgates open

The Public Health Agency of Canada is expecting a smaller-than-normal shipment of COVID-19 vaccines this week, with fewer than 445,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech shots scheduled for delivery over the next seven days.

Yet that seeming trickle is set to explode into a full-blown flood starting the week of March 22 as the companies dramatically ramp up their deliveries and other pharmaceutical firms start making good on their own promised shipments.

The Public Health Agency says this coming week will be the last in which Canada will receive fewer than 1 million doses over a seven-day period. Pfizer and BioNTech alone are on tap to deliver more than that each week for the foreseeable future.

Canada is also expected to start receiving more shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine starting in April, as well as Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose inoculation. Those are in addition to the bi-weekly delivery of doses from Moderna, the next of which is scheduled for the week of March 22.

Public Procurement Minister Anita Anand said on Friday that Canada is on track to receive 7 million vaccine doses from the various companies by the end of April, with a total of 36.5 million delivered by the end of June and 118 million before Sept. 30.


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– The Canadian Press

6 a.m. – Alberta detects first cases of Brazil variant

Alberta has detected its first two cases of the highly contagious COVID-19 variant that was identified in Brazil, P.1, on Sunday as the province prepares to once again expand vaccine eligibility.

The two cases of the P.1 strain have been linked to travel and are both located in the Calgary zone, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, on her Twitter account Sunday. The two are already isolating and their close contacts are being offered testing twice.

This is the third variant strain to be detected in Alberta, though P.1 has been located in other provinces, including Ontario and B.C.

– Edmonton Journal


9:30 p.m. –Outbreak in one unit at VGH

Vancouver Coastal Health has declared an outbreak on unit T14G, an inpatient unit in the Jim Pattison Pavilion at Vancouver General Hospital as two patients have tested positive for COVID-19.

The unit is closed to new admissions and transfers at this time. All visitation has been suspended until the outbreak measures have been lifted; the exception being for compassionate visits at the end of life.

Meanwhile, the outbreak precautions on unit T11D in the VGH Jim Pattison Pavilion have been lifted and this unit is no longer on outbreak.

7:30 p.m. – B.C. begins mass vaccination rollout on Monday

On Monday, B.C. residents aged 80 years and older and Indigenous peoples aged 65 and older can call to book a vaccine appointment. Seniors 80 and older were originally scheduled to begin calling on March 22 but due to gains in the Telus call centre, that cohort was moved up by a week on Sunday evening.


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Those on the Sunshine Coast aged 80 and older can also call starting Monday.

To avoid backlogs on the booking lines, seniors 84 and over can begin calling Monday, those 83 and older on Tuesday, 82 and older on Wednesday, 81 and older on Thursday and 80 and older on Thursday.

There are approximately 105,000 seniors between the ages of 80 and 84 who have not yet been vaccinated.

– Katie DeRosa and Matt Robinson

3:15 p.m. – Life lessons learned during our year of COVID-19: “I cannot wait for the pandemic to end”

A new Leger poll conducted for Postmedia shows the No. 1 life lesson that respondents say they learned during the past year was to cherish family and friends, and other social connections, that we, perhaps, took for granted before COVID’s arrival in B.C. last winter.

When the pandemic was first declared on March 11, 2020, Leger’s polling found, more than 40 per cent of us were still making “positive connections” with family and friends outside our home, despite the social distancing rules. But today, that has dropped to just a quarter of British Columbians keeping up those important interactions.



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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