COVID-19 in B.C.: AstraZeneca vaccine rollout, over 450 new cases per day, 10 new deaths, and more

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      New case counts remained above 400 each day over the weekend. 

      As the AstraZeneca vaccine arrives in B.C., provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained who will receive this vaccine, and also addressed concerns about this vaccine raised by some countries suspending its use. 

      B.C. update: March 12 to 15

      Henry announced there were 1,506 new cases over the past three time periods, which includes:

      • 555 new cases from March 12 to 13;
      • 491 new cases from March 13 to 14;
      • 460 new cases from March 14 to 15.

      By region, that includes:

      • 840 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 382 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 129 in Northern Health;
      • 80 in Interior Health;
      • 75 in Island Health;
      • no one from outside of Canada.

      Active cases declined. Currently, there are 4,987 active cases, which is a drop of 83 cases since March 12.

      However, hospitalized cases have increased. At the moment, there are 269 people in hospitals (14 more than on March 12), with 76 of those patients in intensive care units (nine more than March 12).

      Public health is monitoring 9,359 people, which is 204 more people since March 12.

      Tragically, there were 10 new deaths over the weekend. The cumulative total number of fatalities is now at 1,407 people who have died.

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said that by day, there were four deaths from March 12 to 13, three from March 13 to 14, and three from March 14 to 15. By region, the total includes four deaths in Vancouver Coastal Health, three in Fraser Health, two in Interior Health, and one in Northern Health.

      During the pandemic, a cumulative total of 81,890 people have recovered.

      B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 88,373 cases since the first case was detected in B.C. last year.

      Province of British Columbia

      Variants and vaccines

      Henry said there are 163 new COVID-19 variant cases, with 195 cases currently active.

      Accordingly, the cumulative total of variants cases is now at 880 cases.

      The total includes:

      • 818 cases of the B117 variant (U.K.);
      • 41 of the B1351 variant (South Africa);
      • 21 of the P1 variant (Brazil.

      By region, the total includes:

      • 681 cases in Fraser Health;
      • 161 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 23 in Interior Health;
      • eight in Island Health;
      • one in Northern Health.

      As of today, 409,103 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., and 87,059 of those are second doses.

      Henry said that they have had 469 adverse effects in reaction to the vaccines, which includes 46 anaphylaxis (or allergic reactions).

      B.C. immunization executive lead Dr. Penny Ballem announced on March 14 that due to progress in vaccine appointment bookings, the schedule has been advanced.

      Appointment bookings for those aged 80 to 84 years old are being taken this week. For full details, see this article.

      As the AstraZeneca vaccine arrives in B.C., Henry explained that the initial shipment of this vaccine will be used for workers in industries where use of personal protective equipment and barriers can be challenging, outbreaks and clusters have taken place or remain ongoing, and workers living or working in groups.

      B.C. public health and WorkSafeBC have identified the following worksites as being highest risk for transmission:

      • food processing plants, including poultry, fruit and fish processing;
      • agricultural operations with group worker accommodations, including farms, nurseries, and greenhouses;
      • large industrial camps, with group worker accommodations;
      • large living settings for workers where isolation and quarantine is difficult, and outbreaks are ongoing.

      At today’s briefing, Henry acknowledged that there are some countries that have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to about 37 cases of conditions related to blood-clotting. Henry said that these issues can occur naturally as well as with COVID-19 conditions.

      However, Henry pointed out that over 17 million AstraZeneca doses have been administered, with only 37 blood-clotting cases arising (which she emphasized is a very small number). Henry said they are continuing to monitor the situation as health investigations continue, and that some vaccine lot numbers may be more associated with these incidents (she said that the incidents have occurred in countries using similar lot numbers).

      “We are confident that that is not a risk that we are seeing here in Canada with the AstraZeneca Serum Institute of India vaccine that we have here,” she said.

      Outbreaks and exposures

      Vancouver Coastal Health stated on March 14 that while an outbreak has been declared in unit T14G at the Jim Pattison Pavilion at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) after two patients tested positive, an outbreak is now over in unit T11D at VGH. 

      Henry said that the outbreak at Shaughnessy Care Centre in Port Coquitlam is now over.

      Fraser Health announced on March 13 that it has declared outbreaks over at Chartwell Carrington House Retirement Residence in Mission and Royal Columbia Hospital in New Westminster.

      Currently, there are 14 active outbreaks, which include six in longterm care facilities and eight in acute care facilities.

      Henry and Dix said in their joint statement that the outbreak at the North Fraser Pretrial Services Centre in Port Coquitlam is now over.

      As previously reported earlier today, Langley glass manufacturer Vitrum Glass had an outbreak involving 44 employees who tested positive. Also, potential public exposure events have taken place at Universal Kitchen Cabinets in Surrey, the Blarney Stone pub in Vancouver’s Gastown, and Bimini’s Beer Hall (2010 W 4th Avenue) in Kitsilano in Vancouver. For further details, see this article.

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control added the following 15 flights to their COVID-19 exposure lists:

      • Feb 27: Air Canada 311, Montreal to Vancouver;
      • Mar 3: Air Canada 45, Delhi to Vancouver;
      • Mar 4: Air Canada 116, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • Mar 4: Air Canada 306, Vancouver to Montreal;
      • Mar 4: Air Canada 123, Toronto to Vancouver;
      • Mar 5: Air Canada/Jazz, Vancouver to Winnipeg;
      • Mar 7: Air Canada 45, Delhi to Vancouver;
      • March 7, Air Canada Flight 116, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • Mar 9: WestJet 706, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • Mar 10: Air Canada 45, Delhi to Vancouver;
      • Mar 10: Air Canada 314, Vancouver to Montreal;
      • Mar 11: Lufthansa Air 492, Frankfurt to Vancouver;
      • March 12, Air Canada Flight 45, Delhi to Vancouver;
      • March 12, Air India Flight 185, Delhi to Vancouver;
      • March 12, Sunwing Flight 2858, Mexico City to Vancouver.

      Affected row information is available at the BCCDC website.

      Sobeys added two Safeway locations to its list of stores with staff members who tested positive:

      • at 200–2 Avenue West in Prince Rupert, where two employees who tested positive last worked on February 28 and March 5;
      • at 9123 100 Street in Fort St. John, where an employee who tested positive last worked on March 11.

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

      Four of those stores were Real Canadian Superstore locations:

      • three employees who tested positive last worked on March 5 and 7 at the 8195 120th Street store in Delta;
      • one employee who tested positive last worked on March 6 at the 2332 160th Street store in Surrey;
      • two employees who tested positive last worked on March 7 and 8 at the 45779 Luckakuck Way store in Chilliwack;
      • one employee who tested positive last worked on March 9 at 19851 Willowbrook Drive in Langley.

      The fifth store was Shoppers Drug Mart at 102–510 5th Street in Nanaimo.

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