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COVID-19 update for Dec. 27: Here’s the latest on coronavirus in B.C.


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

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Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for Dec. 27, 2021.

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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 Dec. 27:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 241,946 (10,415 active)
• New cases since Dec. 24: 6,288 (2,552, 2023 and 1,713)
• Total deaths as of Dec. 23: 2,414 (four deaths)
• Hospitalized cases as of Dec. 23: 192
• Intensive care as of Dec. 23: 71
• Total vaccinations as of Dec. 23: 4,377,551 received first dose; 4,126,279 second doses; 807,057 third doses
• Recovered from acute infection as of Dec. 23: 222,604
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected as of Dec. 23: Two

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IN-DEPTH:   Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus in 2021 | in 2020


B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS

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

COVID-19: B.C.’s vaccine passport is here and this is how it works

COVID-19: Here’s how to get your vaccination shot in B.C.

COVID-19: Look up your neighbourhood in our interactive map of case and vaccination rates in B.C.

COVID-19: Afraid of needles? Here’s how to overcome your fear and get vaccinated

COVID-19: Five things to know about the P1 variant spreading in B.C.

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.

B.C. Ministry of Health reports 6,288 new cases over past three days, but little else

Health Minister Adrian Dix will not be releasing data on COVID-19 vaccinations, hospitalizations, testing numbers, test positive percentages, deaths and hospitalizations by vaccination status until Wednesday, Dec. 29. These means it will have been almost a week since any of this information was released.

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The Health Ministry did however release a preliminary case count on Monday afternoon, showing there were 6,288 cases of COVID-19 reported over the past three days (Friday 2,552, Saturday 2,023 and Sunday 1,713). The Friday number was a daily case record.

Of those cases, just over 50 per cent were reported in the Fraser Health region, while 23 per cent were reported in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

Canada records more than two million COVID-19 cases

Canada has officially logged more than two million reported cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

The government of Canada’s health website says the total case count was 2,000,976 as of Dec. 26, 2021.

The website wasn’t updated over the holiday period.

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The highly transmissible Omicron variant has spurred a surge in cases across the country and health-care analysts have said the true number of infections is likely far higher than what is reported.

— The Canadian Press

CDC cuts quarantine time for COVID-affected Americans to five days

U.S. health authorities on Monday shortened the recommended time for isolation for asymptomatic Americans with COVID-19 to five days from the previous guidance of 10 days.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said the people who test positive after quarantining should follow five days of wearing a mask when around others.

Omicron accounts for 73% of U.S. coronavirus infections, the federal CDC had said last week.

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Breakthrough infections are rising among the fully vaccinated population, including those who have had a third booster shot. However, Omicron appears to be causing milder symptoms in those people, some of whom have no symptoms at all.

Reducing the CDC’s 10-day quarantine recommendation would help asymptomatic people return to work or school, with proper precautions, White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci had told CNN last week.

The CDC on Monday also gave guidance for people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose or more than two months after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and not yet boosted. It recommended quarantine for them for five days followed by strict mask use for an additional six days.

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Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure should wear a mask for 10 days, the CDC said.

— Reuters

Breakthrough COVID-19 often severe in cancer patients

Vaccinated people with cancer should not underestimate their risks from breakthrough cases of COVID-19, researchers warn.

Among 54 cancer patients who became infected despite receiving a two-dose vaccine from Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech or a single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson – before booster doses were recommended – 65 per cent needed to be hospitalized, 19 per cent ended up in intensive care units, and 13 per cent died, according to data from the international COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium.

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The study did not analyze the vaccines’ efficacy at preventing infections in the first place. But among those who did become infected, COVID-19 was no less severe than it was in a comparison group of 1,656 unvaccinated cancer patients with COVID-19, researchers reported on Friday in Annals of Oncology https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0923753421048808. The risks were greatest for patients with blood cancers.

“Many studies … have suggested that patients with cancer don’t create a strong immune response, and this is the first large study that likely shows the consequences of this,” said Dr. Jeremy Warner of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. “Additional doses and boosters are critical, as are continued masking, social distancing, and encouragement of all close contacts of patients with cancer to get vaccinated.”

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— Reuters

Manitoba health officials say 75% COVID cases in province are Omicron variant

Manitoba health officials reported eight new COVID-19 related deaths and 2,154 cases for a three-day period since Christmas Eve.

A news release from the province Monday says that about 75 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Manitoba are now suspected to be the Omicron variant.

It says it will now screen only “certain samples” for Omicron and case numbers for the variant will not be given.

The province reported 785 cases on Christmas Day, 694 on Boxing Day and 675 on Monday.

Health experts have said that there may be more cases than reported because a number of sites and hospitals have reached testing limits.

— The Canadian Press

Fauci suggests air travel vaccine mandate as Omicron grounds U.S. flights

Skyrocketing COVID-19 cases hobbled U.S. airline staff on Monday, causing hundreds of flight cancellations, and prompted the country’s top infectious disease expert to suggest the government consider a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel.

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Monday’s air travel woes capped a glum Christmas weekend for thousands of stranded passengers waiting in airport queues and on customer service phone lines to re-book flights, often days after originally planned.

Rising infections from the Omicron variant forced airlines to cancel flights as pilots and cabin crew fell sick and needed to quarantine.

A total 1,130 flights into, within or out of the United States were canceled by Monday afternoon, according to the flight tracking website flightaware.com. Airlines said the virus and bad weather both were to blame.

The average number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States has risen 55% to over 205,000 per day over the last seven days, according to a Reuters tally.

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Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top U.S. infectious disease expert, on Monday recommended the federal government consider a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel.

“That is just another one of the requirements that I think is reasonable to consider,” Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official and a member of the White House COVID-19 response team, told MSNBC in an interview.

— Reuters

Drugstore COVID-19 tests predict short-term infectiousness

Drugstore rapid COVID-19 tests, less sensitive than gold-standard PCR tests, might yield a negative result in 15 minutes while failing to detect virus particles but those same particles might pose no risk of transmission in the very short term, according to a report posted on Thursday on medRxiv ahead of peer review.

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The researchers first performed these antigen tests on swab samples from 181 individuals with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections. Next, they took the virus from the swabs and tried to grow it in test tubes. When viral loads were below the antigen tests’ level of detection, the virus particles were often incapable of growing.

People with low viral loads and negative antigen tests may become infectious “a day or two or three days later,” said Dr. James Kirby of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“Therefore, to be most effective, antigen tests should be used immediately before an event or contact with those at greater risk from infection.”

The swabs must be collected for testing carefully, following the instructions provided with the testing kits, he added.

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“In other words, you want a really good sampling of the inside of your nose.”

— Reuters

Israeli hospital launches first test of second COVID-19 booster

An Israeli hospital administered fourth COVID-19 vaccine doses to a test group of health workers on Monday, in what it called the first major study into whether a second round of boosters will help contend with the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

Results of the trial, likely to be closely watched internationally, will be submitted to Israel’s Health Ministry in about two weeks, said a spokesperson for Sheba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv.

Israel was the fastest country to roll out initial vaccinations a year ago, and became one of the first to launch a booster program after observing that immunity waned over time.

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On Monday, the Health Ministry said it was shortening the time between offering the second and third doses of COVID-19 vaccine to three months from five months in order to beat back rising infections as Omicron spreads.

Concerned about the risk of a sudden surge in hospitalizations, a ministry expert panel last week recommended Israel become the first country to offer a fourth jab to medical workers and those over 60 or with compromised immune systems.

— Reuters

Vancouver Coastal Health closes Richmond COVID-19 testing site due to cold

Vancouver Coastal Health has temporarily closed its Sea Island COVID-19 test collection centre in Richmond due to extreme cold weather.

This is the second test site closed by the authority due to the current cold snap. The St. Vincent site on Heather Street in Vancouver was closed on Friday as snow made for dangerous driving for people in the vehicle queue.

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In a statement posted Christmas Day on Vancouver Coastal Health’s Instragram page, the health authority said “due to hazardous weather conditions, operations at the COVID-19 testing site located at YVR airport have been temporarily suspended, effective December 25 at 4p.m.

“To ensure the safety of staff and clients, all incoming traffic will be temporarily redirected to alternate locations, including testing sites at UBC and ICBC.

“To help manage the potential influx in testing volumes, staff from the YVR testing site will be re-deployed to support these clinics in the interim.”

There is now one site in Vancouver where people can get walk-in PCR tested for COVID-19 – at the Three Bridges Test Collection Site on the 1100-block of Hornby Street

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— David Carrigg

U.S. holiday flight cuts near 1,800 as crews come down with COVID

Airlines’ U.S. flight cancellations neared almost 1,800 for the Christmas weekend, disrupting travel on one of the busiest periods of the year as the omicron-fueled wave of Covid cases triggered air-crew shortages.

Saturday’s pullbacks erased at least 10 per cent of the schedule at Delta Air Lines Inc., United Airlines Holdings Inc. and JetBlue Airways Corp., according to data tracker FlightAware.com. The cuts on Christmas Day in the U.S. totalled almost 900.

“Like many businesses and organizations, we have seen an increasing number of sick calls from Omicron,” JetBlue spokesperson Derek Dombrowski said in an emailed statement. “Despite our best efforts, we’ve had to cancel a number of flights, and additional flight cancellations and other delays remain a possibility as we see more omicron community spread.”

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Airlines’ tie-ups added to evidence of economic disruptions from the omicron variant, whose fast spread is causing havoc even though initial indications suggest that it causes less-severe illness than other Covid strains. Health-care systems are being squeezed by a lack of staff, and a U.S. Navy warship is stuck at Guantanamo Bay after a Covid outbreak on board.

— Bloomberg News

Hundreds of thousands COVID-19 booster shot appointments still unbooked in B.C.

With no end in sight to the highly infectious spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the province is renewing its call for British Columbians to schedule booster vaccine doses amid growing unbooked appointments at clinics.

As spots opened up Thursday to people ages 63 to 64, available appointments not claimed included 7,000 this week and 25,000 in the following, “of which a total of 14,000 … are located in the Interior,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said at a Friday news conference.

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“In the first three weeks of January, 203,000 are not booked with more appointments going up every day.”

The province’s vaccine rollout continues to target people at greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 by offering them a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a total of 656 clinic locations around the province, including those of health authorities and pharmacies.

“When you receive an invitation, I strongly encourage you to book … because you are in a category of people, either due to age or other circumstances, where you should get your third dose and get it now.”

Twenty per cent of the eligible population has already received their third dose. Seventy-five per cent of those 70 and older who are eligible have received a booster dose.

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— Sarah Grochowski


B.C. MAP OF WEEKLY COVID CASE COUNTS, VACCINATION RATES

Find out how your neighbourhood is doing in the battle against COVID-19 with the latest number of new cases, positivity rates, and vaccination rates:


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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