COVID-19 in B.C.: Deaths decrease after vaccinations; immunization scam warnings; and more

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      Although B.C. continues to see a large number of new cases each day (which B.C. Premier John Horgan called "disconcerting" at a news conference today) and there remain areas of concern and ongoing overall increases, there are some indications of progress.

      Also, as B.C.’s immunization program continues on, British Columbians are being warned about vaccination scams that have been taking place.

      B.C. situation report: February 28 to March 6

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has observed that the number of COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths in longterm healthcare facilities have “dramatically decreased” in the wake of the immunization program.

      As an example, the BCCDC pointed out that 78 out of 112 COVID-19-related deaths in week 51 (of 2020) were in longterm care facilities while only one out of 24 deaths in week 9 (February 28 to March 6, 2021) was in longterm healthcare.  

      Overall, the BCCDC stated that severe outcomes appear to be stable for the moment.

      That’s the good news.

      Concerning news is that the BCCDC reported that the provincial incidence of COVID-19 has been continuing to gradually increase, particularly in Vancouver Coastal Health.

      For the report’s time period, cases increased among those aged 15 to 49, and especially among 20 to 29 year olds.

      There was one new case of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) since the last weekly report.

      Immunization scams

      Both B.C. immunization executive lead Dr. Penny Ballem and B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry have previously warned British Columbia that there are scams underway related to COVID-19 vaccinations.

      In addition, the West Vancouver Police Department stated that it has received reports about fraudsters calling people by phone, and claiming that the victim is next in line for the vaccine.

      The fraudster will tell the victim that they need personal information, such as a home address and credit card details, to schedule a “home visit” for the vaccination. 

      “At this stage, nobody will be calling you to set up a home vaccine appointment,” WVPD spokesperson Const. Kevin Goodmurphy stated in a news release. “If you receive a call like this, hang up immediately.” 

      Anyone in West Vancouver who becomes a victim of fraud is asked to call the WVPD non-emergency reporting line at 604-925-7300.

      B.C. RCMP stated on March 1 that between March 2020 and January 2021 there were over 11,500 reports of COVID-19-related fraud in Canada, and over seven million dollars lost. In addition, almost 10,000 people have been victimized in COVID-related scams.

      More information on COVID-related scams and tips on how to protect yourself are available at the B.C. RCMP and Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre websites.

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

      B.C. update: March 17

      Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix reported 498 new cases in B.C., in a joint statement issued today.

      By region, the total includes:

      • 291 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 128 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 36 in Northern Health;
      • 31 in Interior Health;
      • 12 in Island Health;
      • no one from outside of Canada.

      Active cases have decreased by 148 cases since yesterday to 4,851 active cases today.

      With one additional person admitted to hospital since yesterday, there are currently 281 individuals are in hospitals, and 83 of those patients are in intensive care units (one more since yesterday).

      Public health is monitoring 9,472 people after exposures to identified cases, which is a decrease of 39 people since yesterday.

      Sadly, there are four new COVID-19-related deaths. That brings the cumulative total number of fatalities during the pandemic to 1,411 people (two percent) who have died.

      With 647 recoveries since yesterday, the cumulative total of recoveries is now at 83,083 people (93 percent of all cases).

      B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 89,427 cases during the pandemic.

      Variants and vaccines

      Unfortunately, an update on variant cases isn’t available today because of a “lab sequencing issue”, Henry and Dix stated.

      As of yesterday’s report, there were a total of 996 COVID-19 variant cases in B.C.

      As of today, 444,140 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca-SII vaccines have been administered in B.C., and 87,093 of them have been second doses.

      Outbreaks and exposures

      There’s encouraging news: there aren’t any new healthcare or community outbreaks, and none of the five regional health authorities listed any new public exposure events.

      In addition, none of the supermarket companies that publicly report staff who have tested positive (T&T Supermarket, Loblaws, Sobeys) and McDonald’s added any new locations to their lists.

      The BCCDC added the following four flights to its lists of public exposures:

      • March 6: Air Canada 216, Calgary to Vancouver;
      • March 6: Air Canada/Jazz 8209, Vancouver to Prince George;
      • March 14: Air Canada 45, Delhi to Vancouver;
      • March 14: Air India 185, Delhi to Vancouver.

      Affected row information is listed at the BCCDC website. 

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