Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for Jan. 13, 2021.
We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on in B.C. right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly throughout the day, with developments added as they happen.
Check back here for more updates throughout the day. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.
B.C.’S COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS
As of the latest figures given on Jan. 12:
• Total number of confirmed cases: 58,553 (5,045 active)
• New cases since Jan. 11: 446
• Total deaths: 1,019 (9 new)
• Hospitalized cases: 368
• Intensive care: 72
• Total vaccinations: 62,294
• Cases under public health monitoring: 7,238
• Recovered: 51,144
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 61
B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS
LATEST NEWS on COVID-19 in B.C.
3 p.m. – Health officials are set to share latest figures on COVID-19 in B.C.
Health officials are expected to update the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries across the province.
2:30 p.m. – B.C. health minister says review underway after doctors jump vaccine queue
British Columbia’s health minister says it’s “very disappointing” that some doctors in Vancouver jumped the queue to get a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Adrian Dix says the issue was detected through a systems review and that everyone is expected to follow the rules on the priority list for immunization in order to first protect the most vulnerable people.
He says a number of cases have been identified by Vancouver Coastal Health and “appropriate action” will be taken as part of a review that is underway.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says reports of administrative staff getting the vaccine in another health authority may have involved clinics calling people on a list to use up doses that would otherwise have gone to waste.
– The Canadian Press
2:30 p.m. – B.C. to begin mass immunizations in April
B.C. is gearing up to begin mass immunizations against COVID-19 in April, with the goal of administering a half-million shots every week by the summer, and achieving herd immunity in the province by September.
After exhausting the initial supply of vaccines delivered by the federal government late last year, most of which went to long-term care home residents and workers, provincial officials said a fresh stock of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is expected later this week. Most coronavirus fatalities have been in care homes.
“The next phase of our efforts will see a significant and really massive scaling up of our vaccination efforts,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said on Wednesday. “It will be the largest vaccination effort in B.C. history, and requires a strong team.”
The Immunize B.C. team will be led by Vancouver Coastal Health chairwoman Dr. Penny Ballem, who called the province’s plan “one of the most important initiatives we’ve ever been tasked with in our health sector in B.C.”
Canada’s national panel of vaccine experts says the second COVID-19 vaccine dose can be delayed briefly in a bid to get more people a first dose faster.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization says every effort should be made to follow the 21-day and 28-day dosing schedules recommended for the two vaccines approved in Canada to date.
But as the pandemic heats up and vaccine supplies are slow to trickle in, they say delaying the second dose up to six weeks, instead of three or four, could more quickly get at least some protection against COVID-19 to more people.
Canada is getting enough vaccine doses to vaccinate the vast majority of Canadians by the fall but the bulk of that won’t happen until later in the spring and summer and provinces are warning they’re going to run out of doses.
– The Canadian Press
Testing patients for COVID-19 before their scheduled surgery and transfer to wards from emergency departments could reduce hospital outbreaks in British Columbia as cases rise, the results of a pilot project in the province’s largest health authority suggest.
Fraser Health said that out of 5,681 patients who were booked for surgery, 65 tested positive for the virus but had no symptoms and would not have warranted a test based on a screening questionnaire. Of 2,969 patients booked for elective surgery, 11 were infected with the virus but were asymptomatic.
“Unidentified COVID-19 cases can lead to transmission and contribute to outbreaks,” the health authority says about its enhanced testing in a memo to staff.
Testing began in mid-November over three weeks for surgical patients and four weeks for patients who had been in emergency rooms.
“The triggers that led to the evaluation were two or more COVID-19 outbreaks in acute care and a testing positivity rate greater than five per cent. Both of these conditions still exist within Fraser Health,” the memo says, adding the health authority has continued testing for the virus.
-The Canadian Press
Parbs Bains had a “sinking feeling” when she heard a single staff member tested positive for COVID-19 at her grandmother’s care home.
On Nov. 20, Little Mountain Place sent an email to families that said an employee had contracted the virus and was in isolation. A Vancouver Coastal Health medical health officer determined there was “minimal exposure risk” and was not declaring an outbreak, it said.
Instead, the health authority placed the home on “enhanced surveillance,” including heightened monitoring of residents, hyper vigilance in screening visitors and stronger infection control practices. Visitors were still welcome and group activities were continuing, the email said.
Bains felt certain that this was the beginning of the end for her 89-year-old grandmother.
“I was like, ‘This is it.’ I was bawling because I just knew this was going to be it,” Bains recalled.
The facility declared an outbreak two days later.
It has become the deadliest care home outbreak in British Columbia. Ninety-nine out of 114 residents have been infected and 41 of those have died, including Bains’s grandmother. Seventy staff members also tested positive, but most have recovered.
Two families are questioning whether some deaths could have been avoided if the home had taken stronger measures immediately after the first case was identified. They also say that a hard-working but understaffed nursing team struggled to keep residents isolated and care for those who were sick as the virus spread through the facility.
During a Zoom call with her grandmother after she contracted COVID-19, Bains said another female resident entered the room and began hugging and kissing the elderly woman on the forehead. After several minutes, a nurse rushed in and ushered the other resident out, she recalled.
Bains said that while she didn’t know if the other woman had the virus, it alarmed her that residents were able to wander between rooms without staff immediately noticing.
-The Canadian Press
B.C. health officials confirmed another 446 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and nine new deaths.
The updated numbers from Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix bring total cases province-wide to 58,553, while total deaths climbs to 1,019.
There are 5,045 active cases of COVID-19 in the province — the lowest number since early November. It’s a positive sign, especially so soon after the holidays, when fears of another surge of infections led to increased restrictions on social gatherings and alcohol consumption on New Year’s Eve.
Most sick individuals are isolating at home, though 368 residents are being treated in hospital — an increase of 10 overnight. 72 people are fighting for their lives in acute care.
B.C. VACCINE TRACKER
LOCAL RESOURCES for COVID-19 information
Here are a number of information and landing pages for COVID-19 from various health and government agencies.
–with files from The Canadian Press