COVID-19 in B.C.: Two schools with exposures temporarily close, Premier Horgan on call centre problems, and more

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      Once again, case numbers are around similar levels are previous days, but a weekly report is indicating that the cases have been trending upward overall.

      Meanwhile, there are two schools that have temporarily closed due to COVID-19 exposures and there’s one outbreak at a hospital.

      Tonight (March 10), CBC Vancouver is holding a B.C. townhall session at 7 p.m. about the provincial immunization program.

      Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced earlier this week that he has designated tomorrow (March 11) as a national day of observance to commemorate all those who have been lost during the pandemic, one year after the first person died in Canada, which happened to be in North Vancouver. 

      In health violation news, a woman in West Vancouver is facing fines totalling almost $7,000 for violating quarantine requirements after arriving in Canada. 

      Call centre concerns

      At a news conference yesterday (March 9), B.C. Premier John Horgan was asked several questions about the issues with call centres handling the huge volume of vaccination appointment calls starting on March 8. Health Minister Adrian Dix had taken responsibility for the delays but said that the problems arose from Telus, which had issued an apology.

      When Horgan was asked why Vancouver Coastal Health, which had the some of the most problems in taking calls, didn’t have an online booking system like Fraser Health did, he did not answer the question directly but said that every regional health authority is different and has different issues to address.

      He added that there was “a failure of a contractor…and steps are being taken to correct that”.

      Horgan acknowledged that "other parts of British Columbia, other health authorities had contingency plans in place that weren’t in place in Vancouver Coastal” on March 8 but that they were implementing that now. 


      Weekly report

      Today, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) issued the weekly situation report for February 21 to 27, which had a total of 3,237 cases.

      Although severe outcomes (which includes hospitalizations and deaths) have stabilized, the number of cases have been increasing in several health regions.

      Incidence increased in Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, and Island Health. Meanwhile incidence in Interior Health remained level and decreased in Northern Health.

      B.C. update: March 10

      B.C provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dix announced, in a joint statement, that there are 531 new cases (including two epi-linked cases) in B.C. today.

      • 291 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 147 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 42 in Interior Health;
      • 32 in Northern Health;
      • 19 in Island Health;
      • no one outside of Canada.

      Today, there are 4,861 active cases, which is eight fewer cases since yesterday.

      Five more people have been admitted to hospitals, for a current total of 244 hospitalized cases, with 66 patients in intensive care units (two more since yesterday).

      Public health is monitoring 9,051 people, which is an increase of 80 people since yesterday.

      Since yesterday, 539 people have recovered, which means that there has been a total of 79,309 cumulative recoveries.

      Sadly, there is one new COVID-19-related death, which brings the cumulative total to 1,394 people who have died in B.C. during the pandemic.

      During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 85,650 cases.

      Variants and vaccines

      Since yesterday, there are 51 new variant cases, which brings the cumulative total to 627 variant cases. Currently, 109 are active cases.

      The total number of variant cases include:

      • 580 cases of the B117 (U.K.) variant;
      • 33 cases of the B1351 (South Africa) variant;
      • 14 cases of the P1 (Brazil) variant.

      As of today, 355,340 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 86,960 of which are second doses.

      Henry and Dix stated that B.C. has begun receiving supplies of the AstraZeneca-SII Covishield vaccine.

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix, with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
      Province of British Columbia

      Outbreaks and exposures

      Fraser Health announced one new healthcare outbreak at Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge, where five patients have tested positive. The outbreak remains limited to one unit and the rest of the hospital remains operational, including the emergency department.

      Here's the good news: there aren’t any new community outbreaks.

      Regarding schools, Fraser Health stated today that it is working on COVID-19 exposures at:

      • Centennial Park Elementary School in Abbotsford, which the Abbotsford School District said they would temporarily close for spring break due to operational challenges created by the exposure;
      • Bibleway Christian Academy in Surrey, which is voluntarily closing until two weeks after spring break.

      Flights and food stores

      The BCCDC added the following seven flights to its lists of COVID-19 exposures:

      • February 25: WestJet 129, Calgary to Vancouver;
      • February 28: WestJet 3287, Vancouver to Prince George;
      • March 1: Air Canada 106, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • March 1: Alaska Airlines 3443, Vancouver to Seattle;
      • March 1: WestJet 126, Vancouver to Calgary;
      • March 2: Air Canada 106, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • March 6: Air Canada 7, Vancouver to Hong Kong.

      For affected row information, visit the BCCDC public exposures webpage.

      Loblaw added two stores to its list of locations with staff members who have tested positive.

      Both were Real Canadian Superstore locations:

      • one employee who tested positive last worked on March 3 at the 2855 Gladwin Road store in Abbotsford;
      • an employee who tested positive last worked on March 7 at the 45779 Luckakuck Way in Chilliwack.
      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.