Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for Jan. 30 to 31, 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. 29:
• Total number of confirmed cases: 66,779 (4,557 active)
• New cases since Jan. 28: 514
• Total deaths: 1,189 (5 new)
• Hospitalized cases: 292
• Intensive care: 74
• Total vaccinations: 129,241 of which 4,262 are second doses.
• Cases under public health monitoring: 7,242
• Recovered: 59,551
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 34
B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS
• COVID-19: Here’s everything you need to know about the novel coronavirus
LATEST NEWS on COVID-19 in B.C.
Sunday, 3 p.m. – Outbreak over at Surrey long-term care facility
A COVID-19 outbreak at Brookside Lodge, a long-term care facility in Surrey, is now over, Fraser Health said on Sunday.
The outbreak was first declared on Dec. 28 after two staff members tested positive for the virus.
The outbreak spread to 12 others at the facility with one resident dying from the disease.
Canada’s hopes of speeding up COVID-19 vaccinations brightened slightly over the weekend as regulators began work to approve a new inoculation, even as the federal government sought to head off any restrictions on vaccine shipments from Europe.
Pharmaceutical company Novavax quietly submitted its COVID-19 vaccine to Health Canada for regulatory approval on Friday, less than two weeks after Ottawa finalized a deal with the Maryland-based company for 52 million doses of the shot.
Because of the emergency nature of the pandemic Health Canada is accepting applications for vaccines before the final trial data is ready, allowing the review team to start pouring over the documents on an ongoing basis, rather than waiting until everything is finished.
The rolling review allows for much faster approval once the final results from clinical trials are complete.
Novavax is the fifth vaccine maker to submit an application for rolling review. AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna all submitted in early October, and Johnson and Johnson followed suit at the end of November.
Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 9 and gave Moderna the green light on Dec. 23, both about three weeks after the companies completed their phase three trials. A decision on AstraZeneca is expected in the next couple of weeks.
Sunday, 12:45 p.m. – Vancouver police bust alleged penthouse party palace
The party may be over for the owner of a Vancouver luxury condo that police say has been transformed into a makeshift nightclub in violation of provincial COVID-19 social gathering restrictions.
Vancouver police arrested a 42-year-old man and issued more than $17,000 in fines in connection with a pair of weekend parties that were allegedly held inside a penthouse suite at the Telus Garden Residences, at 777 Richards Street, on Saturday night.
It was the second time in two weeks that police had been called to the condo tower.
Sunday, 12:45 p.m. – COVID-19 clinics for ‘long haulers’ aim to treat patients stuck in limbo
Researchers around the world are trying to unravel the mystery of so-called long COVID to help patients afflicted with an assortment of debilitating symptoms, though they are typically excluded from statistics related to COVID-19 or considered recovered.
Some, like Richmond’s Lorraine Graves, were diagnosed with COVID-19 by their family doctors based on symptoms, not a positive test, in the early days of the pandemic when testing was not offered widely.
“We didn’t recover. We survived,” said Graves, who was referred to a clinic where “long haulers” are treated and studied in order to better understand the cause of their ongoing illness while others recover within a few days or don’t have any symptoms at all.
Graves said she has so far had a virtual appointment with a general internist at a clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital, which is part of a network of three sites in the Vancouver area and is believed to be the only such provincially funded initiative in Canada.
What she has learned so far from Dr. Jesse Greiner is that patients like her must recognize their physical, cognitive and emotional limits or risk the consequences of “overdoing it,” which could simply mean worrying about the future.
— The Canadian Press
Sunday, 8:30 a.m. – Canadian death toll surpasses 20,000
Canada’s national death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 20,000.
The country reached the bleak milestone this morning after Quebec reported 31 new fatalities related to the virus.
Data shows 20,016 people have died of the virus since the onset of the pandemic last year.
An average of 138 people with COVID-19 have died each day over the past week.
— The Canadian Press
Sunday, 8:30 a.m. – Flights to Caribbean, Mexico halted by four major Canadian airlines as of today
Four of Canada’s major airlines have suspended service to Mexico and the Caribbean as of today.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat had agreed to the measure in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The restriction will last until April 30, and Trudeau says the airlines will help arrange the return of customers currently on a trip.
It’s one of a suite of new government measures aimed at preventing Canadians from travelling abroad in the doldrums of February and throughout spring break.
For instance, starting first thing Thursday, all international passenger flights must land at only four airports — in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal.
And in the coming weeks, all air travellers arriving in Canada will have to stay at a government-approved hotel for three nights and take a COVID-19 test — all at their own cost.
— The Canadian Press
Saturday, 6 p.m. – Royal City Manor loses 15 residents in the past week
Fifteen residents died at the Royal City Manor long-term care home in the past week, bringing the total at the New Westminster facility to 19 since an outbreak of the coronavirus in early January.
The outbreak followed another that ended in late December with no deaths.
A total of 38 residents at long-term care homes in B.C. died in the week ending Thursday, Jan. 27, according to information that is now being published on a weekly basis by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
The province began publishing the information under pressure to be more transparent about what was happening in individual care homes, which have been hit hard in the pandemic with 712 deaths, accounting for 60 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths in B.C.
Saturday, 2 p.m. – Lockdown ends for Canim Lake band, but some restrictions remain in place
A COVID-19 lockdown has ended in a First Nations community in British Columbia’s central interior, but officials say they still plan to limit access for non-residents for at least another month.
Chief Helen Henderson of the Canim Lake Band says in a joint statement with local officials that the community’s strong values enabled everyone to pull together after a high number of cases led to an outbreak.
Henderson said nearly two weeks ago that 60 cases were diagnosed among 234 residents, adding crowded housing contributed to the outbreak that led to the death of an elder.
The band, the Cariboo Regional District and the District of 100 Mile House say school and administrative office reopenings will be phased in as some affected families remain in isolation.
They say band members may visit nearby communities for appointments and to buy groceries and other supplies.
District of 100 Mile House Mayor Mitch Campsall says he’s looking forward to seeing members of the community emerging from lockdown.
— The Canadian Press
Saturday, 11 a.m. – BC CDC lists more potential flight exposures
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has listed some more recent flights that had potential COVID-19 exposure. For more information visit the BC CDC website exposure page.
The affected flights are:
Jan. 20: Air Canada 128, Vancouver to Toronto
Jan. 24: Aeromexico 696, Mexico City to Vancouver
Jan. 24: WestJet 186, Vancouver to Edmonton
Jan. 26: Air Canada 255, Kelowna to Vancouver
Another temporary delay in vaccine delivery to Canada will further slow the rollout in British Columbia, but health officials here still expect to fully inoculate planned priority groups by the end of March.
On Friday, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said one piece of good news is that all long-term care and assisted-living home residents and staff have been offered the vaccine. Henry didn’t have exact numbers — which will be available next week — but said uptake has been very high, as much as 100 per cent in some care homes.
Care homes have been hard hit by deaths, accounting for 60 per cent of B.C.’s total.
B.C. health officials learned Friday that Moderna vaccine supply was being cut as much as 20 per cent in the next week. That cut comes on top of reduced supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the next several weeks.
“It’s going to be a challenging few weeks,” said Henry, referring to the vaccine supply cuts. “We are working with what we have available to best address hot spots.”
Saturday, 5 a.m. – B.C. travellers ‘go with the flow’ in face of new restrictions
Walter and Geri Vink are packing their suitcases while waiting for word from their airline.
The Chilliwack couple has been working at an orphanage north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, since early December and was set to stay until March 5 before new federal travel restrictions announced Friday scrambled their plans.
“We were feeling a little depressed this morning,” said Walter Vink, “but we have to listen and we have to go with the flow.”
It’s unclear how many British Columbians will be affected by Friday’s announcement, which will soon require travellers returning from abroad to quarantine in a designated hotel for up to three days as they await the results of a COVID-19 test administered at the airport.
Those with negative test results will be able to quarantine for the rest of the mandatory two weeks at home, while those with positive tests will have to isolate in a government-designated facility. Travellers are expected to pay the hotel cost, which is estimated to be about $2,000 for the two weeks.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced that Canada’s main airlines, including Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat, will suspend service to all Caribbean destinations and Mexico starting Sunday until April 30, and starting next week, all international passenger flights must land at only four airports: Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal.
Saturday, 12 a.m. – Health officials warn of potential exposure at Vancouver restaurant
Vancouver Coastal Health is warning of a new potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus at Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar in Vancouver.
The possible exposure occurred from Jan. 19 to Jan. 23 during operating hours.
The risk of exposure is considered low, but health officials are asking anyone who was at Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar on the specified dates and times to self-monitor for symptoms.
Saturday, 12 a.m. – Health officials announce 514 new cases, five additional deaths
On Friday, health officials reported 514 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C., bringing the total number of cases in the province to 66,779 since the start of the pandemic. There were also five more deaths, bringing the total to 1,189 British Columbians who have died as a result of the virus.
Of the new cases, 134 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 223 in the Fraser Health region, 29 in the Island Health region, 71 in the Interior Health region, and 57 in the Northern Health region.
Henry expressed disappointment with the delays impacting the delivery of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to B.C., but was confident the province would meet its Phase 1 and Phase 2 objectives as soon as possible.
“January has proven to be a difficult month for all of us. As our new cases of COVID-19 remain high, vaccine supply has been impacted and we all feel the fatigue of this pandemic,” Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement.
Saturday, 12 a.m. – Fraser Health declares COVID-19 outbreak over at Nicola Lodge
Fraser Health is declaring the COVID-19 outbreak over at Nicola Lodge, a long term care facility in Port Coquitlam.
Fraser Health says there are no longer any cases of the virus at this location.
Health officials are asking people in the region to use the COVID-19 assessment tool and get tested as soon as they have COVID-19-like symptoms, even mild ones.
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