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Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C.

Author of the article:

Scott Brown, Tiffany Crawford, Cheryl Chan, David Carrigg

Publishing date:

Mar 10, 2021  •  2 hours ago  •  10 minute read  •  5 Comments FILE PHOTO: The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Photo by Handout . /via REUTERS Article content

Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for March 11, 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 March 10:

Total number of confirmed cases: 85,650 (4,861 active)
• New cases since March 9: 531
• Total deaths: 1,394 (1 new)
• Hospitalized cases: 244
• Intensive care: 66
• Total vaccinations: 268,380 people are immunized, of whom 86,960 have had a second dose.
• Cases under public health monitoring: 9,051
• Recovered: 79,309
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 17

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IN-DEPTH:COVID-19: Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus

B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS

• COVID-19: Here’s a list of all the vaccination clinics in B.C.

• COVID-19: Here’s everything you need to know about the novel coronavirus

• COVID-19 FAQ: What you need to know about the vaccine rollout in B.C.

• COVID-19: Have you been exposed? Here are all B.C. public health alerts

• COVID-19 at B.C. schools: Here are the school district exposure alerts

• COVID-19: Avoid these hand sanitizers that are recalled in Canada

• COVID-19: Here’s where to get tested in Metro Vancouver

• B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool

LATEST NEWS ON COVID-19 IN B.C.

3 p.m. – AstraZeneca arrives in B.C. 

There were 531 cases of COVID-19 reported in B.C. on Wednesday, including 51 variants of concern. There are 4,861 active cases in the province, of which 109 are variant cases.

There have been 268,380 people vaccinated in B.C., of whom 86,960 have received a second dose.

One person died over the past day, bringing that toll to 1,394.

“We are now starting to receive supplies of the AstraZeneca – SII Covishield vaccine. This additional vaccine supply will be used to supplement our age-based provincewide immunization program,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“In particular, we will use this vaccine to assist with outbreak response in communities and within high-risk industries.

Noon – Vaccination efforts stepped up but COVID-19 still a threat

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Health authorities stepped up COVID-19 vaccination efforts on Wednesday amid a stubbornly consistent spread of new infections and related deaths.

As a result, the Public Health Agency of Canada urged caution in the lifting of anti-pandemic restrictions, saying easing should be slow and with special attention to emerging variants that are more contagious.

The vast majority of Canadians are still susceptible to COVID-19, Dr. Theresa Tam, the country’s chief public health officer, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Although COVID-19 activity had been declining nationally from mid-January through mid-February, daily case counts have since levelled off,” Tam said.

“With the continued increase of cases and outbreaks associated with more contagious variants, we must all remain vigilant with public health measures and individual precautions to prevent a rapid shift in trajectory of the epidemic.”

To date, Canada has seen almost 894,000 cases of COVID-19, more than 22,300 of those fatal. Infection rates are now highest among those aged 20-39 years old, latest data show.

– The Canadian Press

Noon – Two million doses of Pfizer vaccine being shipped to Canada

Health Canada expects more than two million doses of vaccine to be delivered from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna in two weeks.

Pfizer alone will ship more than a million doses a week itself between March 22 and April 18.

Pfizer recently said it would increase its planned shipments to Canada by 1.5 million doses before the end of March, and send an extra million doses in both April and May.

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The company has now confirmed its delivery schedule through mid-April, shipping 1.2 million doses the weeks of March 22 and March 29, and one million doses the weeks of April 5 and April 18

– The Canadian Press

9:45 a.m. – COVID-19 lockdowns violate federal inmate rights, suit alleges

Federal prison authorities have repeatedly violated the rights of inmates with efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, a civil lawsuit alleges.

The unproven claim, filed in British Columbia Supreme Court, alleges anti-pandemic measures have resulted in a wide variety of breaches by Correctional Service of Canada.

“Without notice or explanation, it subjected incarcerated persons to medical and administrative lockdowns — a form of isolation akin to solitary confinement — for indeterminate periods of time,” the suit alleges.

“It suspended parole hearings and withheld the programs and services that incarcerated persons require in order to secure parole eligibility.”

Other alleged breaches, according to the claim, relate to the suspension of visits and religious services, as well as to the provision of substandard health-care.

The claim was filed by a prisoner rights group, the John Howard Society, and seven inmates. Several of them have serious health conditions.

– The Canadian Press

7:15 a.m. – High COVID-19 count prompts citywide COVID-19 vaccinations in Prince Rupert

Health officials say COVID-19 outbreaks remain stubbornly frequent in one northwestern British Columbia city and are prompting a new approach to vaccinations.

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Northern Health, the Ministry of Health and the Provincial Health Officer say the entire community of Prince Rupert and nearby Port Edward will be immunized over the next three weeks.

The first clinics for roughly 12,000 Prince Rupert-area residents begin Monday and continue until April 1.

Those eligible can dial a dedicated phone line and appointments will be assigned based on age, with vaccinations for the city’s oldest residents starting March 15 and clinics for those aged 18 to 39 begin March 29.

A statement from Northern Health says the community approach is needed because Prince Rupert has high COVID-19 case and positivity rates that have not reflected recent improvements seen elsewhere in the region.

Northern Health is also using the community immunization model on Haida Gwaii, while Island Health says all residents of nearly 30 communities with populations under 4,000 or with accessibility challenges such as the Gulf Islands, will also be vaccinated together in one or two-day clinics.

Island Health says details of those community clinics are still being arranged.

– The Canadian Press

6 a.m. – Just over 2.5 million Canadians have been fully vaccinated

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 77,818 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,543,253 doses given. Nationwide, 579,032 people or 1.5 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 6,710.558 per 100,000.

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There were 143,910 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 3,082,480 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 82.51 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

In the B.C, 1.69 per cent (86,938) of the population has been fully vaccinated, while 256,443 people have received at least one shot. The province has administered doses at a rate of 66.915 per 1,000. The province has used 80.16 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

6 a.m. – Airlines offer dirt-cheap fares to lure back customers 

Dirt-cheap fares are popping up from airlines brave enough to expand or start out amid the COVID-19 crisis, as they try to eke out sales and get a jump on competitors that have pared back operations.

Airlines worldwide cut $1 billion of expenses a day last year to cope with the slump in passengers, and that’s given them some wiggle room to lower ticket prices. More broadly, cost savings are emerging for carriers as unwanted planes become available on the cheap. Thousands of laid off flight crew are also eager for work, allowing some airlines to go on hiring sprees.

Ultra-cheap fares could help revive the market by luring back customers who’ve been reluctant to fly due to border restrictions and lengthy quarantines. Vaccine rollouts add to the bullishness, even with air passenger travel in an unprecedented funk and a return to pre-crisis levels not expected before 2024.

Canada’s Flair Airlines Ltd. is betting that pent-up demand to see friends and family will spur a domestic travel recovery in the Northern Hemisphere summer. The ultra-low-cost carrier is bulking up its fleet and almost doubling its network, with fares starting at C$39.

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Edmonton-based Flair is leasing 13 new Boeing 737 Max jets from one of its investors, 777 Partners, after the aircraft was cleared to fly again in January by Canada’s aviation regulator.

“Affordable air travel within Canada is the first step in restarting travel and tourism,” President Stephen Jones said last month.

– Bloomberg News

TUESDAY

8 p.m. – COVID-19 forces closure of Abbotsford school

Ecole Centennial Park Elementary School in Abbotsford has closed because it does not have enough teachers available after its latest COVID-19 exposure.

Starting Wednesday, the school will be voluntarily closed “due to operational limitations as a result of a number of staff and/or students needing to self isolate at home.

The school – in the Fraser Health region – has had exposures on Jan. 11, Feb. 16-24 and March 1 and 2. The school will remain closed until after spring break.

David Carrigg

3 p.m. – Troubling appearance of Brazilian variant with just five per cent of B.C.’s population vaccinated

British Columbia now has cases of all three COVID-19 variants, after the troubling appearance of the Brazilian variant P1.

While the U.K. and South African variants are more infections, the Brazilian variant has reinfected some people who had recovered from the original virus.

On Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there had been 182 new COVID-19 variants cases reported, including the P1 case.

This came a day after she reported 114 new variant cases over a three day period. Last Friday there were 16 variant cases reported in a day – so numbers are accelerating.

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Henry said the bulk of those cases (530) had been the U.K. variant B117, followed by the South African variant B117 (33) and now the one P1 variant case.

There were a total 550 new cases of the disease reported over the past day, and two deaths.

There are 4,869 active cases in B.C., of which 249 are being treated in hospital including 68 in intensive care (a jump of two).

More than 10,000 people were given a first dose of vaccine on Tuesday, with the government providing very few second doses.

So far, 256,443 people in B.C. have received vaccine – or five per cent of the total population.

David Carrigg

2:30 p.m. – Federal mandatory hotel quarantine policy faces legal challenge from constitutional rights group

A constitutional rights advocacy group is mounting a legal challenge to the Canadian government’s quarantine hotel policy.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation has filed an application with Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice along with five individuals, seeking an end to the policy.

A government order that went into effect on Feb. 14 mandates that anyone entering Canada from abroad must stay in a federally approved hotel for the first three nights of a 14-day quarantine.

Travellers may leave the hotels once a COVID-19 test taken at their point of entry comes back negative.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation argues in its legal application that hotel quarantine requirements are “overbroad, arbitrary and grossly disproportionate.”

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The applicants are seeking an injunction to suspend the order, but are also asking to have the law struck down for infringing upon the constitutional rights of liberty, freedom from unreasonable detention, and the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment.

– The Canadian Press

1 p.m. – Health minister Dix blasts Telus for vaccination booking problems

The B.C. Liberals slammed the government during question period Tuesday for not being better prepared to handle the high call volumes during the first two days of the COVID-19 vaccination bookings in B.C.

Opposition leader Shirley Bond said the situation was “chaos” for people trying to book appointments while Liberal MLA Todd Stone said Dix and Premier John Horgan must take responsibility for the “fiasco.” Stone said it’s unfair that people across the province had different access to book vaccines since Fraser Health was the only health authority with an online option.

Vancouver Coastal Health has had significant problems, Dix said, because it relied solely on the contact service provider, Telus, whereas the other four health authorities had their own backup call centre staff.

The system faced technical problems and insufficient staff, Dix said. He said the health authority is training staff to assist the call centre.

Dix said Telus “failed us yesterday” which he said “is completely unacceptable.” He said Telus did not follow through on their contractual obligation and he wants the company to take responsibility for the failure.

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“People should be mad that the service provider didn’t come through here,” Dix said. “To say I’m disappointed and frustrated would be an understatement.”

In a statement Tuesday, Telus apologized for the call centre failures and acknowledged it let people down.

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.

• B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool

• Vancouver Coastal Health – Information on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

• HealthLink B.C. – Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page

• B.C. Centre for Disease Control – Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

• Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update

• World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

– With files from The Canadian Press

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