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 29, 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 March 26:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 95,677 (6,245 active)
• New cases since March 24: 908
• Total deaths: 1,449 (3 new)
• Hospitalized cases: 294
• Intensive care: 81
• Total vaccinations: 637,856 people have received one of the three approved vaccines, including 87,233 who have received a second dose.
• Cases under public health monitoring: 9,996
• Recovered: 87,866
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 11

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.

1 p.m. – Premier Horgan to provide COVID-19 update

Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, are expected to provide an update on COVID-19 and B.C.’s vaccination program.

It’s anticipated that the premier may be announcing new restrictions to combat the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the province.

On Friday, British Columbia reported 908 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily total of 2021 and third-highest total in the province since the start of the pandemic.

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8:45 a.m. – P.E.I. suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine for those aged 18 to 29

Prince Edward Island has suspended use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for those aged 18 to 29.

Health officials said in a brief statement the vaccination appointments are on hold pending further information expected today from Health Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

Prince Edward Island announced on March 9 that it would offer the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 18 to 29 who work in gas stations and convenience or grocery stores.

The move was a response to COVID-19 outbreaks on the Island that were concentrated among young people.

The province said it had received 2,000 doses of the vaccine and they had been distributed to pharmacies across the province to give to the young workers.

Canadian health officials first recommended the Astra-Zeneca vaccine for those under 65, but on March 16 it adjusted its advice to say that it could also be given to seniors.

In British Columbia, health officials are using the AstraZeneca vaccine to target outbreaks and protect front-line workers. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are used for B.C.’s age-based vaccine rollout.

MORE TO COME

8 a.m. – WHO says COVID-19 probably passed from bats to humans through another animal

A joint WHO-China study on the origins of COVID-19 says that the virus was probably transmitted from bats to humans through another animal, and that a lab leak was “extremely unlikely” as a cause, the Associated Press reported on Monday.

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The reported findings match what WHO officials have said in the past about their conclusions following a Jan-Feb visit to China.

Many questions remain unanswered, and the team proposed further research in every area except the lab leak hypothesis, the Associated Press reported, citing a draft copy it had obtained.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus acknowledged receipt of the report from the independent experts but declined to give details, telling a Geneva news briefing: “All hypotheses are on the table and warrant complete and further studies.”

– Reuters

7 a.m. – Canada expecting to receive 3.3M vaccine doses this week

Canada is scheduled to receive a flood of new COVID-19 vaccine doses this week, with around 3.3 million shots due for delivery from different pharmaceutical companies over the coming days.

The expected influx would mark the single-largest week of deliveries into Canada since the start of the pandemic, thanks to planned shipments from three different sources.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says Pfizer and BioNTech are scheduled to ship nearly 1.2 million doses this week, as the two companies continue pumping out shots at a rapid pace.

The federal government is also expecting around 1.5 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the United States on Tuesday, which will arrive by truck and represent the first to come from south of the border.

Canada’s vaccines to date have all come from Europe, with the exception of 500,000 AstraZeneca doses from India earlier this month.

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The government also says Moderna will make good on its promised delivery of 600,000 shots this coming Thursday, which is about a week later than expected.

Moderna was supposed to have shipped around 846,000 shots to Canada last week, but only a fraction was actually delivered due to what the company and government have described as a backlog in its quality-assurance testing.

The anticipated flood of new vaccine doses comes as the federal government reported Canada having received more than six million doses as of last week, which was several days earlier than anticipated.

– The Canadian Press

6 a.m. – Vaccinations bookings available for people deemed “clinically extremely vulnerable” today

People with cancer, transplant recipients, those with severe respiratory illness and others considered “clinically extremely vulnerable” will be able to register for a COVID-19 vaccine today.

The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said letters would be sent to anyone 16 and older in B.C. who is clinically extremely vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19.

As well, people aged 73 (born in 1948) and older living in either the Fraser Health or Vancouver Coastal Health regions can book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Those aged 70 (born in 1951) living in Sunshine Coast, Powell River, Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton and Bowen Island can also book appointments.

Booking appointments are also open for all British Columbians born before 1947 and Indigenous people born before 1967.

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Provincial health officials have been able to expedite B.C.’s vaccine rollout because of a decision to extend second doses to four months from three to four weeks and expected increased vaccine deliveries from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Here is the contact list of regional health authority call centres:
• Fraser Health: 1-855-755-2455
(Fraser Health also has online booking: Fraserhealth.ca/vaccinebookinginfo)
• Vancouver Coastal Health: 1-877-587-5767
• Interior Health: 1-877-740-7747
• Island Health: 1-833-348-4787
• Northern Health: 1-844-255-7555

The call centres will ask for:
• Legal name;
• date of birth;
• postal code;
• personal health number (PHN) from the back of B.C. driver’s licences or B.C. services cards;
• current contact information, including an email address or phone number to receive texts.


SUNDAY

9 p.m. –  Parents on Vancouver Island told to expect jump in school exposures

Families and staff at Vancouver Island schools received a grim email on Sunday, warning them to expect significant numbers of school exposures in the weeks to come.

The letter from Island Health stated Vancouver Island had experienced a high number of cases of COVID-19 over the past three weeks and that many of those people had reported higher than usual numbers of social contacts and events. An exposure is reported at a school that a COVID-sick person attends for any time. There are many examples of transmission at schools, but it is not common.

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“This past few weeks may have been quiet as schools have been heading into or returning from spring break,” the letter states. “However, all signs indicate that there will be significant numbers of exposures at schools in the weeks to come.”

2 p.m. – Cases of vaccine-resistant variant more than doubles in B.C.

A team of researchers at St. Paul’s Hospital using a new method for rapidly identifying COVID-19 variants of concern has unexpectedly detected a cluster of over 215 cases of the P1 variant — more than doubling the number of P1 cases in the province.

“Using this technology, we rapidly identified a cluster of P1 cases which otherwise would have likely gone undetected,” said Dr. Marc Romney, clinical associate professor in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at UBC and head of medical microbiology and virology at St. Paul’s.

“Since then, we have identified more P1 cases in B.C. than have been identified in the entire United States and more than any other country, except Brazil and Italy.”

The P1 variant was first identified in Brazil.

Romney said the lab at St. Paul’s does testing for about 70 per cent of the Vancouver area, including some of the suburbs. As of Friday, about 30 per cent of positive COVID-19 results his lab tested were variants of concern. Of those, he said, “the majority were P1.”

The P1 variant is especially concerning because it contains a mutation that makes it both highly contagious and more resistant to the antibodies produced from vaccines and previous coronavirus infections. It has the potential to infect people who have been vaccinated and even reinfect people who have had COVID-19.

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— Nathan Griffiths


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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