COVID-19 in B.C.: Six healthcare outbreaks, update on variants in schools, and more

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      New case numbers continue to hover around similar levels as last week, which means case numbers still remain too high.

      Meanwhile, B.C. has entered Phase 2 of the immunization program.

      B.C. immunization executive lead Dr. Penny Ballem, along with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Premier John Horgan held a news conference today to announce further details about upcoming vaccinations.

      Phase 2 will focus on providing vaccinations to those 80 years and above, Indigenous people 65 years and above, residents and staff in supportive and independent-living housing, and homecare staff.

      In Phase 3, which will begin in mid-April, those aged 60 to 79 and immunocompromised people will receive vaccinations.

      For further details, see this article.

      In health violation news, Global B.C. reported that Vancouver police shut down a gender-reveal party, with 17 people in attendance, that was held at a condo near Robson and Hamilton streets on February 27. Officers issued a $2,300 fine to the party host.

      B.C. update: February 26 to March 1

      Today, Henry and Dix stated in a joint news release that B.C. has had a total of 1,478 new cases (with no new epi-linked cases) over the past three days. That includes:

      • February 26 to 27: 532 new cases;
      • February 27 to 28: 508 new cases;
      • February 28 to March 1: 438 new cases.

      By region, the new case total includes:

      • 857 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 327 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 114 in Northern Health;
      • 92 in Interior Health;
      • 88 in Island Health;
      • no one from outside Canada.

      Currently, there are 4,464 active cases, which is a decrease of 201 cases since February 26.

      Hospitalized cases have risen by four patients to 236 individuals currently in hospitals, and 65 of those patients are in intensive care units (two more people since February 26).

      Public health is monitoring 8,210 people, which is 170 more people since February 26.

      Sadly, there have been eight new COVID-19-related deaths over the weekend, bringing the total fatalities to 1,363 people who have died of COVID-19-related reasons in B.C. during the pandemic.

      A cumulative total of 74,776 people have now recovered.

      During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 80,672 cases.

      As of today, 275,681 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., and 83,777 of those are second doses.

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
      Province of British Columbia

      Variants and schools

      Since the last variant update on February 25, there have been 42 new variant cases for a total of 158 cases, which include:

      • 137 cases of the B117 (U.K.) variant;
      • 21 cases of the B1351 (South Africa) variant;
      • the B1525 variant (Nigeria), of which two cases were reported as of February 25, wasn’t included in today's update.

      So far, 148 people have recovered from the variant, leaving 10 active cases.

      Fraser Health provided updates on variants in schools.

      On February 28, Fraser Health stated that after a health investigation and additional testing at Surrey's École Woodward Hill and Surrey Traditional Elementary School (which were two of the seven schools identified on February 21 as having variants cases), one individual from Woodward Hill and two individuals from Surrey Traditional tested positive for variants.

      One class at Woodward Hill is already isolating and will remain in isolation until Thursday (March 4). Meanwhile, two classes at Surrey Traditional will also self-isolate until March 4. Both schools remain open.

      In addition, variant cases had also been identified at James Ardiel Elementary and Tamanawis Secondary, both in Surrey, on February 21. Mass testing of affected classrooms in addition to testing of close contacts, however, didn’t find any new cases. All close contacts will remain in self-isolation.

      Today, Fraser Health stated that one variant case was identified at Cindrich Elementary School in Surrey. Close contacts have been contacted and will be tested. This school will also remain open.

      Outbreaks and exposures

      Unfortunately, six new healthcare facility outbreaks have been declared at:

      • Glacier View Lodge in Courtenay, where one staff members tested positive as of February 28;
      • Chilliwack General Hospital, where five patients in one unit tested positive as of February 28;
      • Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, where Fraser Health stated on February 26 that five patients in one unit have tested positive;
      • Surrey Memorial Hospital, where one patient tested positive as of February 28;
      • Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody, where 10 patients have tested positive in one unit and Fraser Health stated there has been evidence of transmission;
      • Chartwell Carrington House Retirement Residence in Mission, where Fraser Health stated one resident has tested positive.

      The good news is that outbreaks have been declared over at:

      • St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver;
      • CareLife Fleetwood in Surrey;
      • George Derby Centre in Burnaby;
      • Eden Gardens in Nanaimo, where one staff member and one resident tested positive;
      • Wexford Creek in Nanaimo, where one staff member tested positive;
      • Noric House in Vernon.

      Flights and food

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control added these 11 flights to its public exposures webpage:

      • February 15: Air Canada 127, Toronto to Vancouver;
      • February 20: Air Canada 114, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • February 21: United Airlines 5222, Vancouver to San Francisco;
      • February 21: Air Canada 114, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • February 21: Air Canada/Jazz 8413, Kelowna to Vancouver;
      • February 22: Pacific Coastal Airlines 8P1543, Victoria to Vancouver;
      • February 23: Swoop 182, Abbotsford to Edmonton;
      • February 24: Air Canada 45, Delhi to Vancouver;
      • February 24: Pacific Coastal Airlines 8P1538, Kelowna to Victoria;
      • February 24: Air Canada 103, Toronto to Vancouver;
      • February 26: Air Canada 106, Vancouver to Toronto.

      Affected row information is available at the BCCDC website.

      Meanwhile, News 1130 reported that Notch 8 Restaurant, located at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver in Downtown Vancouver, has temporarily closed after three workers tested positive. However, it is not being added to Vancouver Coastal Health's list of public exposures because the workers were not in contact with customers. 

      Over the weekend, Loblaw listed six more stores with staff who tested positive.

      One was a Shoppers Drug Mart located at 1202 West Pender Street in Vancouver, where an employee who tested positive last worked on February 24.

      Two employees who tested positive last worked on February 15 and 18 at Michael's No Frills (119–5501 204th Street) in Langley.

      In North Vancouver, a staff member who tested positive last worked on February 21 at Lonsdale City Market (1650 Lonsdale Avenue).

      The remaining three stores were Real Canadian Superstore locations:

      • two employees who tested positive last worked on February 18 and 20 at the 2100 17th Street North store in Cranbrook;
      • one employee who tested positive last worked on February 19 at the 7550 King George Boulevard store in Surrey;
      • one employee who tested positive last worked on February 23 at the 8195 120th Street store in Delta.
      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.