Home Health COVID-19 COVID Dec 27: more contagious UK-strain found on Vancouver Island

COVID Dec 27: more contagious UK-strain found on Vancouver Island

More contagious strain found in someone who returned to Vancouver Island from the UK. | The virus spreads quickly but shows up slowly -- maintain all precautions.

Sunday December 27, 2020 | VICTORIA, BC

by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., editor | Island Social Trends

On this Sunday of the 2020 Christmas weekend, the first confirmed case of a person in British Columbia infected with the COVID-19 variant (as first identified in the United Kingdom) was announced by Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix.

In their joint written statement issued around 1:25 pm, it was highlighted that this is the first known case of a British Columbian infected with the variant strain which is considered to be more highly transmissible (i.e. more contagious). And, that this first identified case is here on Vancouver Island.

Christmas, COVID, virus, ornament
Christmas 2020 has been unique this year, during the COVID-19 pandemic. People are required to socialize only within their homes with their own household bubble, as a way to prevent increased transmission of the virus.

It’s unusual for government to issue a news release on a Sunday, particularly this being the weekend immediately following Christmas.

News media are attentive to the importance of timing in something released in this manner. In other words, it was important enough that it couldn’t wait until the regular workweek.

For people on Vancouver Island this is of particular interest and importance. People are hopefully always being careful about ways to prevent transmission of the COVID virus in our immediate lives at home, at work, and in the community (e.g. physical distancing, wearing a face mask in all public spaces, and keeping gatherings to household-only). But this new development ramps up the need to pay even greater attention to undertaking these preventative measures.

When the new virus was noticed:

The person who was found to have been infected with the new UK-variant had returned to BC from the UK 12 days ago on December 15, 2020 (flight AC855). The person developed symptoms while in quarantine and was immediately tested. Testing confirmed the positive diagnosis on December 19, 2020; a small number of close contacts have been isolated and public health is following up with them daily.

Dr Bonnie Henry, Dec 23 2020
Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry delivers COVID update on December 23, 2020 in Victoria.

“The variant strain was detected by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) Public Health Laboratory in its review of all isolates from people who had recently returned from travel to the UK,” it was stated in today’s release.

“Whole genome sequencing at the BCCDC identified this as the same as the variant seen in the UK. Ongoing review may identify additional cases in the coming days,” it was stated in the BC Health release.

Latest COVID stats for Vancouver Island (Dec 24, 2020):

As of December 24, the Island Health profile for COVID cases showed 65 active cases (10 of them new on that day); total of 857 cases (eight are epi-linked) on the island to date this year. Of the currently active cases, six people are in hospital (one in ICU). There have been 11 deaths in Island Health due to COVID this year. Of people who have tested positive for COVID-19, 777 are listed as recovered.

BC CDC, COVID, Vancouver Island, Dec 24 2020
COVID-19 dashboard for Island Health at December 24, 2020.

Other statements from the December 27 release:

“B.C. continues to support the Canada-wide travel ban on all flights arriving from the UK until January 6, 2021, and urges all British Columbians to continue to avoid all non-essential travel to keep people and communities safe,” it was stated in today’s BC Health release.

“It is important to note there is no evidence that the new COVID-19 variant is more likely to cause severe illness, nor is there evidence to suggest the Health Canada-approved vaccines will be any less effective against the new variant.”

prep for vaccine, island health, dec 22 2020
Preparing to receive the first doses of the mRNA Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19, in Island Health, Dec 22, 2020 [Island Health]

“However, studies suggest the COVID-19 variant first identified in the UK can spread more quickly and easily, which is why British Columbians everywhere must continue to be cautious and follow all PHO orders and guidelines, stay close to home, avoid non-essential travel, practice safe, physical distancing and wear a mask when in public indoor spaces.”

“All British Columbians have to remember the virus spreads quickly but shows up slowly. By staying local, avoiding all non-essential travel and using our layers of protection, we can reduce the potential for a surge in new cases and keep our communities and loved ones safe.”

BC health emergency runs in parallel to COVID-19:

The number of daily COVID case counts in BC peaked in mid-November, as outlined by Dr Henry in her modelling presentation on December 23. This second wave in the fall (and early winter) of 2020 has seen higher case counts than in the first wave (March and April).

Premier John Horgan, December 15 2020
Premier John Horgan asks British Columbians to continue following public health guidance and orders, December 15, 2020.

The State of Emergency in BC has been ongoing (renewed every two weeks) since the COVID-19 pandemic was first declared on March 18, 2020. Premier John Horgan says it will very likely remain in place until after the COVID pandemic has been declared over. We can therefore expect the BC State of Emergency to continue through much of 2021.

The Canada-US border has remained closed since March 21 of this year, presently in renewed closure status to January 21, 2021.

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===== Links (from government):

For updated PHO orders and new guidance:

For details on new restrictions, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/restrictions

For updated PHO orders, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/current-health-topics/covid-19-novel-coronavirus

Find out where to get tested: If you are experiencing symptoms, find a collection centre near you to get tested: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/testing

Mental health, anxiety and other supports:

For mental health and anxiety support, visit: www.bouncebackbc.ca
Or: www.anxietycanada.com
Or visit the BCCDC for further supports: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/about-covid-19/mental-well-being-during-covid-19

Information on overdoses, visit: https://www.stopoverdose.gov.bc.ca

People in BC experiencing violence can access VictimLink, a toll-free, confidential multilingual service available 24/7 by calling or texting 1 800 563-0808 or emailing: VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca (mailto:VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca)

For non-health related information, including financial, child care and education supports, travel, transportation and essential service information, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/covid19
Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week.

COVID-19 exposure events, updates and information by health authority:

BCCDC (flights, work sites, etc.): http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/public-exposures
Fraser Health: fraserhealth.ca/covid19exposure
Interior Health: https://news.interiorhealth.ca/news/public-exposures/
Island Health: https://www.islandhealth.ca/learn-about-health/covid-19/outbreaks-and-exposures
Northern Health: https://www.northernhealth.ca/health-topics/outbreaks-and-exposures
Vancouver Coastal: http://www.vch.ca/covid-19/public-exposures

For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/
Or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.

For the latest videos and livestreaming of COVID-19 media availabilities, visit:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BCProvincialGovernment/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BCGovNews
YouTube: www.youtube.com/ProvinceofBC

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