British Columbia

What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. for Jan. 13

Health-care professionals are calling for more rapid testing and inter-provincial travel restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Health-care professionals calling for more rapid testing, inter-provincial travel restrictions

A person wearing a face mask walks by a bus stop in Vancouver. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • On Wednesday, B.C. health officials confirmed 519 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Another 12 people have died.
  • The provincial death toll from COVID-19 reached 1,031.
  • There are 360 people in B.C. hospitals, including 76 in intensive care. 
  • There are 4,810 active cases in the province.
  • As of Tuesday, 62,294 people had received a COVID-19 vaccine dose in B.C.
  • Testing patients for COVID-19 before their surgeries could reduce hospital outbreaks in B.C., a new project suggests.
  • An emergency room doctor in Whistler, B.C., is calling for an inter-provincial travel ban after seeing a "worrying" number of tourists over the holidays.
  • Island Health is delivering doses of the Moderna vaccine to the Cowichan Tribes, whose older members are expected to receive their first shots on Wednesday.

B.C. health officials confirmed 519 cases of COVID-19 in the province over the past 24 hours on Wednesday and that 12 more people had died.

The provincial death toll now stands at 1,031.

There are currently 4,810 active cases of the virus in the province. There are 360 people in hospital, 76 of whom are in critical care. 

Skiers and snowboarders at Whistler Blackcomb on opening day of the season on Nov. 26, 2020. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

There are currently 50 active outbreaks at long-term care homes in the province as of Monday. On Tuesday, the province announced one new health-care facility outbreak at Mount St. Joseph's Hospital in Vancouver.

The next provincial COVID-19 update is scheduled for 3 p.m. PT on Thursday.

Testing pilot project

A pilot project in B.C.'s largest health authority suggests testing patients for COVID-19 before their scheduled surgery and transfer to wards from emergency departments could reduce hospital outbreaks in B.C.

Fraser Health said 65 of 5,681 patients who were booked for surgery tested positive for the coronavirus, 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. 

A respirologist who is part of the COVID-19 rapid-testing pilot project at Vancouver International Airport says preliminary results show promise in deploying such testing at B.C.'s hard-hit long-term care homes. 

Meanwhile, an emergency room doctor in Whistler is calling on B.C. to restrict travel from other provinces after seeing a "worrying" number of patients from Ontario and Quebec over the holidays.

Dr. Annie Gareau, an emergency physician at Whistler Health Care Centre, told Radio-Canada she's concerned that an influx of visitors from outside the region could lead to uncontrolled spread of COVID-19, overwhelming the health-care system.

On Monday, Interior Health confirmed an outbreak in the Canim Lake community east of 100 Mile House. So far, 32 cases of COVID-19 have been linked to the First Nations community where, according to the 2016 census, 228 people live.

B.C.'s health restrictions are in effect until at least Feb. 5 at midnight. The current orders include a ban on gatherings with people outside of one's immediate household. The province's non-essential travel advisory remains in place, including travel into and out of B.C., and between regions.

Cowichan Tribes vaccinations

Doses of a vaccine are expected to arrive on Cowichan Tribes territory on Vancouver Island on Wednesday and members over 65 will receive their first shot as soon as possible, according to the Island Health Authority.

The First Nation has seen case numbers more than triple in under a week and all residents are under a shelter-in-place order until Jan. 22.

According to Island Health, the entire population of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, also located in the mid-Island region, was recently vaccinated after experiencing a surge in cases.

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What's happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 8 p.m. PT on Tuesday, Canada had recorded more than 674,473 cases and 17,233 deaths.

The number of active cases stood at 80,793. 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Loss of taste or smell.
  • Headache.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or o​​​​​​ther extreme symptoms should call 911.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean.
  • Keep your distance from people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

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