COVID-19 in B.C.: Over 20 new cases again, young adult infections in Canada, and overdose crisis

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      Although the number of daily new cases dipped to 13 yesterday (July 14), the number rebounded today above 20 cases, where it had been for five consecutive days over the past week.

      Daily update: July 15

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix issued a joint statement today (July 15) for the daily B.C. COVID-19 update instead of holding a news briefing.

      They announced that there are 21 new cases in the province, which includes two epi-linked cases.

      The cumulative total over the duration of the pandemic so far is now 3,149 cases. That includes 1,023 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,659 in Fraser Health, 135 in Island Health, 216 in Interior Health, 65 in Northern Health, and 51 cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

      Currently, there are 207 active cases, including 14 people in hospital. (Five of those patients are in intensive-care units.)

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix
      Province of British Columbia

      The good news is that there are no new deaths, leaving the total fatalities at 189.

      In addition, there are no new health-care outbreaks. Two long-term care facilities and one acute-care facility have remaining active outbreaks.

      The outbreak at the Krazy Cherry Fruit Co. farm in Oliver remains active, in addition to community-exposure incidents in Kelowna.

      Yesterday, Dr. Henry explained that most of the new cases are part of an outbreak at Holy Family Hospital long-term care facility in Vancouver. She added that the most crucial element is that they are aware of the sources of all reported cases.

      Nonetheless, she did express nervousness when case numbers reach 25, and today Dr. Henry and Dix expressed concerns about the overall rise in new cases, which reflects how the coroanvirus continues to “silently circulate in our communities” in B.C.

      "While early on, many of our long-term care and assisted living facilities were impacted, most of the new cases are in the broader community,” they stated.

      A total of 2,753 people (88 percent) have now recovered.

      Canada's deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo

      Canada update

      Canada’s deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo, who is filling in for Dr. Theresa Tam while she is away, stated today that there have been 108,486 cases in Canada, which includes 8,798 deaths.

      Dr. Njoo also expressed concern about increasing numbers of young adults contracting the virus at parties, nightclubs, bars, and other locations across the country.

      “Although severe illness due to COVID-19 is not common among younger age groups, there have been several reports of severe illness among even young and active adults,” he stated. Singing, mingling and dancing in close contact with others, in closed spaces and crowded places, is not the way to party this summer.” 

      Despite the exposure incident involving individuals in their 20s and 30s at two parties in Kelowna, Dr. Henry stated yesterday that B.C. has not seen the same large surges of cases in this age group that some other jurisdictions, such as Alberta and Ontario, have.

      Overdose crisis

      While the pandemic continues, it is also exacerbating B.C.’s other ongoing health emergency: the overdose crisis.

      Dr. Henry explained on June 12, in response to the B.C. Coroners Service reporting a new record number of overdose deaths, that because of pandemic restrictions and health measures, illegal drug supply chains have been disrupted, resulting in the increased toxicity of drugs being created and more individuals using drugs alone, which heightens risk of overdoses. 

      Today, the federal government announced that approximately $2 million in funding will be allocated for a four-year pilot project in B.C.’s Island Health region.

      This project will use pharmaceutical-grade medication as an alternative to toxic drug supplies for select patients in Cowichan Valley who haven’t responded to other treatments.

      At-risk individuals will be able to access hydromorphone tablets from a licensed prescriber and receive other services, including peer support, medical care, mental-health support, and a personal support plan.

      The project will help to provide evidence for developing safer supply programs.

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