COVID-19 in B.C.: Vaccination appointments begin, positive cases among vaccinated individuals, and more

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      Health call centres began taking calls to make appointments for their vaccinations for people over 90 and Indigenous peoples over 65, which rose to 1.7 million calls by 10 a.m., according to B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.

      He said that as of today’s briefing, about 10,000 appointments had been booked.

      Dix said there are about 80,000 eligible people in B.C. and that approximately 26,000 of them have already received their vaccinations, which he pointed out helps to alleviate numbers.

      As of today, 333,327 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., and 86,925 of those are second doses.

      Although some people may mistakenly believe that receiving the vaccines means that health measures no longer need to be followed, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provided an example (see below) that illustrates why everyone still needs to practice precautions even after receiving two doses of the vaccine.

      In health violation news, Vancouver police arrested two men on the weekend for violating provincial health orders by holding parties in their downtown condo, and both are now facing charges.  

      Meanwhile, today is the one-year anniversary of the first death from COVID-19 reported in Canada, which was a male longterm care resident at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has declared Thursday (March 11) as a national day of observance to commemorate the lives lost and other losses and impacts caused by the pandemic.

      B.C. update: March 5 to 8

      Dix also observed that B.C. case numbers remain “persistently high”, with some indicators on the rise.

      Henry confirmed a total of 1,462 new cases (including 19 epi-linked cases) over the past three time periods, which includes:

      • March 5 to 6: 545 new cases;
      • March 6 to 7: 532 new cases;
      • March 7 to 8: 365 new cases.

      By region, the total includes:

      • 802 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 407 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 102 in Northern Health;
      • 79 in Interior Health;
      • 72 in Island Health.

      Currently, there are 4,854 active cases, which is a decrease of 47 cases since March 5.

      Hospitalized cases have decreased by 15 cases to 240 people currently in hospital, with 66 of those patients in intensive care units (the same number as March 5).

      Public health is now monitoring 8,723 people for exposure to identified cases, which is a decrease of 138 people since yesterday.

      Tragically, there were 11 new COVID-19-related deaths over the weekend. Dix said there were three from March 5 to 6, four from March 6 to 7, and four from March 7 to 8.

      That brings the total cumulative number of fatalities during the pandemic to 1,391 people who have died in B.C.

      With 1,485 more recoveries over the weekend, the cumulative total number is now at 78,237 people who have recovered.

      During the pandemic, B.C. has confirmed a cumulative total of 84,569 cases.

      Variants

      Henry said that over the past three days, there have been 144 new variant cases, which brings the cumulative total to 394 variant cases, with 87 of those cases currently active.

      The total includes 363 cases of the B117 (U.K.) variant and 31 cases of the B1351 (South Africa) variant.

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix
      Province of British Columbia

      Outbreaks and exposures

      Interior Health declared a healthcare outbreak at Cottonwoods Care Centre in Kelowna, where two staff members and 10 residents tested positive.

      Henry pointed out that all residents at this healthcare facility (who wanted the vaccine) have received two doses of the vaccine. However, she said some of the cases are among people who did receive the two doses.

      “This serves us to remind us that while we are very confident that while we are very confident that vaccine is very effective, and particularly prevents severe illness and death, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all transmission will be stopped,” she said, adding that all health precautions must be maintained.

      Meanwhile, Interior Health declared the outbreak in Unit 4B at Kelowna General Hospital—involving six patients and one staff member who tested positive, and the deaths of two patients—as over.

      Fraser Health declared the outbreak at Royal City Manor in New Westminster as over, which Henry said is a “huge relief” for family members of people living at the location.

      She said that currently there are 18 active outbreaks in health facilities, with 10 in longterm care facilities and eight in acute care facilities. A total of 306 cases (194 residents and 112 staff members) are involved in longterm care outbreaks.

      Northern Health provided an update on the outbreak at Pretium Resources Brucejack Mine, located north of Stewart. Northern Health stated that there have been 42 new cases confirmed since the February 19 update, which brings the total to 51 cases linked to this outbreak. There has also been one death.

      Henry said that the community outbreak at SFU Childcare has been declared over.

      Flights and food stores

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control added the following flights to its lists of COVID-19 exposures:

      • February 24: Air Canada 45, Delhi to Vancouver;
      • March 1: WestJet 112, Vancouver to Calgary;
      • March 1 Pacific Coastal 8P1303, Vancouver to Penticton;
      • March 1 WestJet 112, Vancouver to Calgary;
      • March 3 Air Canada 123, Toronto to Vancouver;
      • March 3 Air Canada 45, New Delhi to Vancouver;
      • March 4 Air Canada 8236, Vancouver to Terrace.

      Affected row information is available at the BCCDC website.

      Sobeys had staff members at three of its stores who tested positive.

      One was at a FreshCo (300–20201 Lougheed Highway) in Maple Ridge, where an employee who tested positive last worked on February 23.

      The other two stores were Safeway locations:

      • an employee who tested positive last worked on February 26 at the 1100–2850 Shaughnessy Street store in Port Coquitlam;
      • an employee who last worked on February 28 at 990 King Edward Avenue West store in Vancouver also tested positive.

      Loblaw listed five stores that had staff members testing positive.

      One employee who tested positive last worked on February 25 at Hakam's Your Independent Grocery (20678 Willoughby Centre Drive) in Langley.

      Another employee who tested positive last worked on March 6 at Ray's No Frills (34249 Marshall Road) in Abbotsford.

      Three other stores were Real Canadian Superstore locations:

      • one employee who last worked on February 23 at 350 Southeast Marine Drive in Vancouver;
      • two employees who last worked on February 24 and March 3 at 7550 King George Boulevard in Surrey;
      • two employees who last worked on February 24 and March 4 at 3000 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam.

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