COVID-19 in B.C.: Hospitalized and active cases rise, vaccination reluctance issues, cases at stores and on flights

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      New cases numbers for B.C. sank below 60 for the first time in about a week.

      Unfortunately, the number of cases in hospitals, as well as active cases and those being monitored, continue to increase.

      While more cases have been confirmed at stores and on flights, Canada’s chief public health officer addressed issues about Canadians who are reluctant to receive vaccinations.

      Daily update: August 25

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix issued a joint statement for today’s update. (They will return to present an in-person briefing scheduled on August 27).

      While new case numbers have been around 80 or more in recent days (including reaching 109 new cases on August 22), the number of new cases has decreased to 58 new cases today.

      Active cases have risen from 913 to 925 people.

      Also, the number of people in hospital is continuing to steadily climb—from 18 yesterday to 22 people today. In addition, seven of those patients are now in intensive care units.

      Public health is actively monitoring 2,675 people, which is an increase of 81 people from 2,594 individuals yesterday, due to exposure to confirmed cases.

      Unfortunately, there are two new healthcare outbreaks in the Fraser Health region: one at Bear Creek Villa in Surrey and another at Langley Memorial Hospital. A total of 12 outbreaks are now active in healthcare: 10 at longterm care facilities and two in acute care units.

      The cumulative provincial total over the course of the pandemic is now at 5,242 cases, with 1,683 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health; 2,762 in Fraser Health; 168 in Island Health; 425 in Interior Health; 128 in Northern Health; and 76 cases of people who live outside Canada.

      Thankfully, there aren’t any new deaths. A total of 203 people in B.C. have died during the pandemic.

      A total of 4,114 people have recovered.

      Richmond Centre

      Enforcement, exposure incidents, and air travel

      With officers using new enforcement measures over the weekend, several individuals and establishments received warnings, and some received fines, including several locations in Surrey and a party host who held parties on two consecutive nights in Victoria.

      On August 22, Richmond RCMP received a complaint that a sports centre in the 2300 block of No. 6 Road wasn’t practising physical distancing measures.

      Upon arriving at the location, officers found that the venue exceeded the maximum of 50 people on the premises, and proper sanitization and contact-tracing measures weren’t encouraged. The operator received a $2,300 violation ticket.

      Meanwhile, Richmond Centre shopping mall alerted its tenants that a COVID-19 case was confirmed at a Vans store, which immediately closed for sanitization. The store and mall is not included on Vancouver Coastal Health’s list of potential public COVID-19 exposures.

      Burnaby Now reported that Whole Foods confirmed that an employee tested positive at its Burnaby store but won’t provide details due to privacy concerns. The individual is in isolation and the store was disinfected. The store is not included on Fraser Health’s list of potential public COVID-19 exposures.

      Meanwhile, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has added three more flights confirmed with COVID-19.

      One is international: Sichuan Airlines flight 8501 from Chengdu, China, to Vancouver on August 11. Affected rows weren’t specified.

      The other two flights are domestic.

      WestJet flight 164 from Vancouver to Edmonton on August 12 lists rows 7 to 13 as potentially being affected while Air Canada flight 305 from Montreal to Vancouver on August 18 has rows 24 to 30 as potentially being affected.

      Anyone who was on these flights should self-monitor for symptoms for a period of 14 days after the flight date while reducing contact with others. If you develop symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact 811 to find out about testing. 

      Vaccination issues

      Today, Statistics Canada released the results of a survey that found that almost 60 percent of Canadians are willing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. However, one out of seven Canadians said that they would be somewhat or very unlikely to get the vaccination. About one in 10 Canadians remained uncertain.

      Seniors and those with higher education were more likely to get the vaccine than younger people and those with less education. This survey also found that employment status didn’t have any influence on willingness to be vaccinated. 

      The two main reasons for avoiding the vaccine were a lack of confidence in the safety of the vaccine (54 percent) and concerns about its risks and side effects (approximately 52 percent).

      About one-third of Canadians who are unlikely to get vaccinated said they would wait until it appears safe to get the vaccine (35 percent). Meanwhile, about one-quarter of those unlikely to get the vaccine don’t consider it to be necessary (26 percent).

      At a news conference in Ottawa today, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam responded to the results of the survey.

      Tam said that as vaccine confidence is a key part of the planning process, they need to understand more about who may be reluctant to receive the vaccine.

      "We do need more information on who this group is—it may be a heterogeneous group or it could be very specific populations in Canada—which needs specific engagement on this front,” she said.

      She added that they face a “massive challenge” in dealing with misinformation and myths that are spread through social media and on the internet.

      “This is an area of significant work because we have an overload of information through which many Canadians can’t sort out what is credible and what is not so we’re trying to work on that front,” she said.

      However, she said social media and internet companies have responsibilities in this area, and that she hopes to work with government departments and partners to address these issues.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.

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