COVID-19 in B.C.: Dr. Bonnie Henry on variant case increases, seven healthcare outbreaks over, and more

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      At today’s B.C. COVID-19 briefing, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she’s been talking with her colleagues a lot about the variant, as they have been watching what has been happening in other countries.

      She said, much to their dismay, the variant “does change the game in some ways” if it does take off and becomes dominant.

      “All of us have dreaded that,” she said, as she said it can take us back to how we were operating at the beginning of the pandemic with case management, contact tracing, and controlling every single case.

      She noted that in Ontario, public health officials are finding it is spreading “quite widely” and having “devastating” impacts particularly in longterm care homes.

      On February 7, Ontario reported its first case of the P1 variant (first detected in Brazil) in a person in Toronto who had travelled to Brazil.

      Henry added that they are also watching for a number of variants that have emerged in the United States, particularly one in the Los Angeles area.

      Accordingly, she emphasized the need to continue on with our health measures.

      “We’re all tired of this but it can bring us into a brand new charge of increased numbers of cases if we don’t keep doing what we’re doing,” she said.

      She said that if it does spread rapidly, she will need to place further restrictions on social contacts.

      Mental-health survey

      Researchers at B.C. Children’s Hospital, the University of British Columbia, and Simon Fraser University are conducting a new online survey to understand the mental-health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children, youth, parents, and adults.

      The survey is open to everyone eight years of age and older.

      B.C. Children’s Hospital psychiatry research director and UBC psychiatry professor Dr. S. Evelyn Stewart explained in a statement that this research will provide guidance for clinical and policy decisions in this pandemic and future ones as well.

      To participate, visit the B.C. Children's Hospital survey website

      B.C. update: February 5 to 8

      Henry announced that there were 1,236 new cases (including five epi-linked cases) over the past three time periods. By day, that includes:

      • February 5 to 6: 428 new cases;
      • February 6 to 7: 465 new cases;
      • February 7 to 8: 343 new cases.

      By region, that includes:

      • 601 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 266 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 152 in Interior Health;
      • 131 in Northern Health;
      • 86 in Island Health;
      • no one from outside Canada.

      The number of active cases continues to decrease. Currently, there are 3,976 active cases, which is 447 less cases since February 5.

      Also decreasing are hospitalized cases. With 19 less people since February 5, there are 234 people currently in hospital, with 69 patients in intensive care units (one less since February 5).

      Public health is monitoring 6,900 people.

      Tragically, 13 people have died over the past three time periods. B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said that includes:

      • nine people from February 5 to 6;
      • three from February 6 to 7;
      • one from February 7 to 8.

      The cumulative total fatalities during the pandemic is now at 1,259 people who have died.

      A cumulative total of 65,605 people have now recovered.

      Since the pandemic began, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 70,952 cases, which includes:

      • 42,104 cases in Fraser Health;
      • 16,308 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 6,721 in Interior Health;
      • 3,812 in Northern Health;
      • 1,869 in Island Health;
      • 138 people from outside Canada.
      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix, with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
      Province of British Columbia

      Vaccinations and variants

      As of today, there have been 154,496 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered, with 12,111 of those being second doses.

      Henry said that there have been 217 adverse events, or reactions to vaccinations. Of those, 18 were anaphylaxis, or severe allergic reactions.

      Henry said that there are 40 cases of COVID-19 variants in the province but only three are active cases. (One week ago on February 1, there were 18 variant cases reported.)

      Of those, 25 cases are of the B117 variant (first detected in the U.K.) and by region that includes:

      • 15 cases in Fraser Health;
      • five cases in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • four cases in Island Health;
      • one case in Interior Health.

      Henry said that most of the cases of this variant are from travel or contact with travellers, and there is one case where the source of transmission remains undetermined.

      Meanwhile, there are 15 cases of the B1351 variant (first detected in South Africa), which includes 13 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health and two in Fraser Health.

      Of concern are four cases, where how they were acquired remains unclear.

      Fraser Health stated on February 6 that it is continuing to monitor for any signs of transmission of the B117 variant (U.K.) at Garibaldi Secondary School in Maple Ridge after one case was detected, but it has still not found any further cases among the 87 staff and students who have been tested.

      Henry said most of the variant cases have been found among younger people who have travelled or have been in contact with someone who travelled.

      She said that there hasn’t been any cases of severe illness or hospitalizations.

      Outbreaks and exposures

      Henry said that there are two new healthcare outbreaks:

      • Abbotsford Regional Hospital;
      • a medical inpatient unit at Dawson Creek and District Hospital, where nine patients have tested positive.

      In addition, Fraser Health stated in a news release that it has declared an outbreak at Ladner’s Mountain View Manor (5800 Mountain View Boulevard) in Delta, where two staff members have tested positive. 

      The good news is that seven healthcare outbreaks have been declared over:

      • Mount Saint Joseph Hospital in Vancouver;
      • Hilltop House in Squamish;
      • The Madison Care Centre in Coquitlam;
      • Suncreek Village in Surrey;
      • St. Michael's Centre in Burnaby;
      • Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey;
      • Evergreen Baptist Care Society in White Rock.

      In addition, Vancouver Coastal Health has also lifted restrictions at Minoru Residence in Richmond (as of today).

      Currently, there are 31 active healthcare outbreaks: 22 in longterm care facilities and nine in acute care facilities. Those outbreaks involve 786 residents and 441 staff, for a total of 1,227 cases.

      Interior Health provided updates for community clusters in its region.

      Four new cases linked to the Big White Mountain cluster since February 2 has brought the total to 235 cases. Of these cases, 20 are currently active and 215 people have recovered.

      Since February 2, an additional 16 new cases has brought the Williams Lake cluster to a total of 391 cases. Currently, 78 cases are active and 313 people have recovered.

      No new cases have been reported in the Fernie cluster, leaving the total at 97 cases. With 84 recoveries, there 13 remaining active cases. (One case from another region was removed from total number of cases in this cluster.)

      Big White Mountain
      Anidefor/Getty Images

      Food establishments and flights

      Vancouver Coastal Health has listed the Yaletown location of the Cactus Club Café (357 Davie Street) as having a potential exposure event during operating hours on January 24, from January 27 to 31, and on February 1.

      Sobeys reported that an employee who tested positive last worked on January 31 at Thrifty Foods (5802 Turner Road) in Nanaimo.

      Loblaw listed six of its stores as having staff members who have tested positive.

      Three were Real Canadian Superstore locations:

      • two employees who last worked on January 26 and 27 at 8195 120th Street in Delta;
      • two employees who last worked on January 31 at 1105 Eaton Centre at Metrotown (4700 Kingsway) in Burnaby;
      • one employee who last worked on February 3 at the 1424 Island Highway in Campbell River.

      Two stores were Shoppers Drug Mart locations:

      • two employees who last worked on February 2 at 1–32390 South Fraser Way in Abbotsford;
      • one employee who last worked on February 4 at 7130 Pioneer Avenue in Agassiz.

      One employee who tested positive last worked on February 2 at Hakam's Your Independent Grocer (20678 Willoughby Centre Drive) in Langley.

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has added the following 16 flights confirmed with COVID-19 to its lists:

      • January 24: Air Canada 301, Montreal to Vancouver;
      • January 26: Air Canada Flight 115, Toronto to Vancouver;
      • January 29: AeroMexico 696, Mexico City to Vancouver;
      • February 1: Air Canada Flight 224, Vancouver to Calgary;
      • February 1: Air Canada Flight 855, London to Vancouver;
      • February 1: Air Canada 551, Los Angeles to Vancouver;
      • February 1: Air Canada/Jazz 8239, Terrace to Vancouver;
      • February 1: Lufthansa Flight 492/Air Canada Flight 9101, Frankfurt to Vancouver;
      • February 1: Air Canada/Jazz 8550, Vancouver to Regina;
      • February 1: WestJet 711, Toronto to Vancouver;
      • February 1: Air Canada 223, Calgary to Vancouver;
      • February 2: Air Canada 554, Vancouver to Los Angeles; 
      • February 2: Air Canada 306, Vancouver to Montreal;
      • February 3: AeroMexico Flight 696, Mexico City to Vancouver;
      • February 4: Air Canada 115, Toronto to Vancouver;
      • February 6: KLM 681, Amsterdam to Vancouver.

      Affected row information is available at the BCCDC website.

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