COVID-19 in B.C.: No new deaths, over 600 new cases, Vancouver observes pandemic anniversary, and more

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      Over the past few days, B.C. health officials have been warning that the province's curve is turning upward. Today, the new case count rose above 600 and case numbers increased in several categories.

      However, there’s a particular bright spot among today’s COVID-19 update below.

      National news

      In COVID-19 news from other parts of Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week that Pfizer has guaranteed to deliver one million COVID-19 vaccine doses per week between March 22 and May 10.

      The ramped up scheduled doubles the 444,600 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines expected next week and is in addition to 846,000 Moderna vaccines due at the same time.

      Ottawa has updated the provinces on the new delivery schedule, Trudeau said.

      Meanwhile, an Amazon Canada warehouse in Brampton, Ontario, has been shut down due to a COVID-19 outbreak. 

      City of Vancouver

      City of Vancouver 

      For the national day of observance yesterday (March 11) dedicated to commemorating the lives lost during the pandemic and the one year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic, Vancouver City Hall flew the Canadian flag at half-mast.

      In addition, city hall and the Burrard Bridge were lit blue, in support of healthcare and frontline workers, before they and the Bloedel Conservatory were lit yellow at 9 p.m. to symbolize hope.

      Last year after B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry declared a public health emergency on March 17 and B.C. declared a provincial state of emergency on March 18, the City of Vancouver declared a state of emergency on March 19, 2020.

      According to the City of Vancouver, more than 260 people in Vancouver have died of COVID-19-related causes over the past year.

      In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the other ongoing provincial health emergency: the overdose crisis. In 2020, over 400 people in Vancouver died of overdoses.

      For a timeline of developments during the COVID-19 pandemic in B.C., see this article

      B.C. update: March 12

      Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced, in a joint statement, that there are 648 new cases (including two epi-linked cases) in B.C. today. That includes:

      • 372 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 149 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 56 in Northern Health;
      • 39 in Interior Health;
      • 32 in Island Health;
      • no one from outside of Canada.

      Active cases have risen by 158 cases since yesterday to a new total of 5,070 active cases today.

      Hospitalized cases also increased by 11 people up to 255 patients in hospitals, and 67 of them are in intensive care units (a decrease of one person since yesterday).

      Public health is monitoring 9,155 people due to exposures to identified cases, which is an increase of 166 people since yesterday.

      Despite all of those increases, there is very good news: there aren’t any new deaths announced today. The total number of COVID-19-related fatalities remains at 1,397 people who have died in B.C.

      A cumulative total of 80,325 people (92 percent) have now recovered.

      During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 86,867 cases.

      Variants and vaccines

      Today, Henry and Dix stated there are 79 new COVID-19 variant cases, raising the cumulative total to 717 cases.

      At the moment, 99 of those cases are active.

      The total includes:

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

      Meanwhile as of today, 380,743 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 87,024 of which are second doses. Vaccine appointment bookings are now open for people over 85 and Indigenous people over 65.

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

      Outbreaks and exposures

      There are two new healthcare facility outbreaks.

      Henry and Dix said there is a new healthcare facility outbreak at Oceana Parc retirement living in White Rock.

      In addition, Vancouver Coastal Health announced today that an outbreak has been declared at the Complex Activation Medical Unit (CAMU) at the UBC Hospital, where three patients have tested positive. The unit has been closed to new transfers and admissions, and visits have been suspended. The hospital remains open for urgent and emergency care.

      Meanwhile, two healthcare outbreaks are now over.

      Today, Interior Health declared the outbreak over at Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre in Kamloops. A total of 32 cases were involved in this outbreak, including 24 residents and eight staff members, and two of the residents died.

      Also today, Northern Health declared an outbreak over at the medical inpatient unit at Dawson Creek and District Hospital. The outbreak, which was originally declared on February 7, involved nine patient cases and five staff cases, and one patient died.

      None of the five regional health authorities listed any new public exposure events.

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) added five flights to its lists of public exposures:

      • March 4: Air Canada 116, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • March 4: Air Canada 306, Vancouver to Montreal;
      • March 6: Air Canada 103, Toronto to Vancouver;
      • March 9: WestJet 706, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • March 10: Japan Airlines 17, Vancouver to Tokyo.

      Affected row information is available at the BCCDC website.

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

      An employee who tested positive last worked on March 7 at the Shoppers Drug Mart located at 3650 Mount Seymour Parkway in North Vancouver.

      The three other stores were Real Canadian Superstore locations:

      • two employees who tested positive last worked on February 27 and March 5 at the 8195 120th Street store in Delta;
      • one employee who tested positive last worked on March 8 at the 4650 104th Avenue store in Surrey;
      • several employees tested positive at the 333 Seymour Boulevard location in North Vancouver (no specific numbers or dates were given).

      With files from NOW Magazine.

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