Tag Archives: COVID19

Positive COVID-19 tests in Calgary bubble halt playoffs at men’s curling worlds

Playoffs at the world men’s curling championship in Calgary have been suspended because of positive tests for the COVID-19 virus.

Those who tested positive are asymptomatic and don’t involve playoff teams, according to Curling Canada.

  • Watch and engage with CBC Sports’ That Curling Show live  Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET; Sunday 5 p.m. ET) featuring the men’s curling championship on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

But games are halted until athletes and staff on playoff teams are tested Saturday and receive their results.

“All teams that made the playoffs will undergo testing on Saturday morning, and until the results are clear and it’s known that the players and event staff are safe, no further games will be played,” Curling Canada said in a statement.

Those who have tested positive for the virus are in quarantine and contact tracing is underway, the organization added.

Canada’s Brendan Bottcher was eliminated from gold-medal contention Friday evening in a 5-3 loss to Scotland.

Saturday’s playoff game involving the United States and Switzerland, and semifinals involving Russia and Sweden are on hold. The medal games are scheduled for Sunday.

Fourteen teams, including 13 who travelled to Calgary from outside the country, competed in the men’s world championship.

The field was whittled down to six teams by Friday afternoon. The eliminated teams were preparing to travel home.

WATCH | Scotland upends Canada in qualification game:

Canada’s Brendan Bottcher loses to Scotland’s Bruce Mouat 5-3 in the qualification game at the men’s world curling championship. 1:04

The Canadian men’s, women’s and mixed doubles championships held at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre before the world championship were completed without any positive tests for the coronavirus.

Athletes and team personnel quarantine and are tested upon arrival in Calgary before competing. They’re confined to the arena and the their hotel across the highway.


A pair of Grand Slams with international men’s and women’s fields are scheduled to start next week in Calgary’s curling bubble.

Participants in those tournaments have begun arriving in Calgary to undergo their testing and quarantine before getting on the ice.

The women’s world championship, which was relocated from Switzerland to Calgary, is planned for April 30 to May 6.

WATCH | Where Canada fits in the current curling climate:

The two-time world champion explains how the rest of the world has caught up to Canadian curling. 3:20

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CBC | Sports News

Why Canadians have reason to be more optimistic about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Comparing apples to oranges isn’t necessarily useful if you’re trying to learn more about apples. And that is exactly what some experts say is happening in recent discussions of Canada’s vaccine rollout performance on the world stage.

This country’s vaccination record can seem disappointing when compared to the quick progress in some other countries, but that may not be a fair comparison, some experts say. The fact is certain key metrics suggest Canada’s rollout performance is actually on the rise compared to those of many other countries.

“It really does matter who you compare Canada to,” said Trevor Tombe, an associate professor of economics at the University of Calgary and a research fellow at its school of public policy. 

How we evaluate Canada’s performance, he said, is by comparing ourselves to other major countries and by “using realistic metrics based on Canada’s current rollout strategy.”

At the beginning of March, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the interval time between first and second doses for the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccines be extended to a maximum of four months.

The group doubled down on that recommendation this week, saying the extension will allow more people to receive a first dose more quickly. And the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health publicly announced its support of the interval recommendation the same day.

Tombe said that extension is the reason why Canadians should be sure they are really comparing apples to apples, so to speak, when we look at our numbers internationally.

Comparing Canada to the world based on the metric of how many people have received at least one dose of vaccine paints the most accurate comparative picture right now, he said, given the country has focused its efforts on administering first doses.

By those markers — measuring the Canadian vaccine rollout to other major economies and looking at the percentage of the population that has received at least one dose — this country is doing better than average.

Canada is third in the G7, behind only the United States and United Kingdom. Canada also ranks third when compared to members of the G20 (with data not available for Saudi Arabia and China). And those same metrics put us in the top 10 out of 37 members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 

Scott Halperin, the director of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology in Halifax, agrees that comparing Canada’s “fully vaccinated” rate with the rest of the world is not the best measure of the country’s immunization progress right now. 

“When you have a policy of first dose completion, that’s the metric you want to use — because it’s a conscious policy,” he said. 

“When you make a conscious decision not to give the second dose for another three or four months, then your two-dose completion rate is going to stall for that three or four months.”

Halperin and other experts have pointed out the dearth of vaccine supply in February and early March was caused mostly by a lack of capacity in Canada to manufacture vaccines on a mass scale, a situation created by decades of policy-making decisions. 

“You can only do as well in rolling out the vaccine in terms of how many vaccine doses you have,” he said. “And the leaders in rolling out the vaccines, except for a small number of exceptions, are countries who already had manufacturing capacity and invested very heavily in those vaccines.”

But in the here and now, he said, working with what Canada has to work with, the rollout is ramping up at a pace that matches supply.

The rationale behind the strategy

Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, the head of NACI, says she responds to criticisms of Canada’s vaccination record with a similar recounting of facts. She says the lack of vaccine supply is a factor that influenced her group’s decision to recommend extending the time gap between first and second doses, which is part of what led to Canada’s seemingly poor performance on the world stage when comparing “fully vaccinated” numbers.  

“What we’ve decided to do in Canada is to give one dose to as many people as possible,” she said. “I know that that decision, that was taken by Canada and the provinces, has led to a lot of anger and anxiety in some people.

“It’s very complicated for some people to understand that better protection for all is eventually going to be better protection for them as well.”

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CBC | Health News

Ontario orders hospitals to halt non-emergency surgeries as COVID-19 patients fill ICUs

The Ontario government’s health agency is telling hospitals across most of the province to stop performing all but emergency and life-saving surgeries because of the growing caseload of COVID-19 patients, CBC News has learned.

A memo was sent to hospitals Thursday night telling them to postpone their non-emergency surgeries, effective Monday, everywhere but in northern Ontario. 

“Given increasing case counts and widespread community transmission across many parts of the province, we are facing mounting and extreme pressure on our critical care capacity,” says Ontario Health CEO Matthew Anderson in the memo, obtained by CBC News.

“We are instructing hospitals to ramp down all elective surgeries and non-emergent/urgent activities in order to preserve critical care and human resource capacity,” says Anderson. 

The provincial health agency is also warning hospitals that they may be asked to send staff to harder-hit areas. 


Dr. Chris Simpson is the executive vice-president of medical at Ontario Health and a cardiologist at Kingston Health Sciences Centre. (CBC)

“We may request available health-care workers/teams to support care in other parts of the system,” says Anderson. “We may be asking you to identify available staff who might be redeployed to sites requiring support.” 

The order comes with Ontario hospitals reporting a record number of patients critically ill with COVID-19 in the intensive care units. Premier Doug Ford cited the pressure on ICUs in his decision Wednesday to declare a third state of emergency and put the province under a stay-at-home order.    

There were 532 patients with COVID-19 in the province’s ICUs on Wednesday night, according to a daily report from Critical Care Services Ontario. 

Ontario has roughly 2,000 ICU beds. Emergency patients who don’t have COVID-19 typically fill 1,200 to 1,400 of those beds.

Modelling from Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table projects 600 COVID-19 patients in ICUs by the middle of April, and 800 by the end of the month, should current case trends continue.  

“To look after the kinds of patients that we know are going to be coming over the next couple of weeks, we need to generate more capacity,” said Dr. Chris Simpson, Ontario Health’s  executive vice-president of medical, in an interview Thursday night. 

“To do that, we need to ramp down some of the surgeries and procedures and other care that can be deferred,” said Simpson, who works as a cardiologist at Kingston Health Sciences Centre. That hospital has already been the destination for numerous transfers of patients from the Greater Toronto Area in an effort to relieve the pressure on the busiest hospitals.  

Emergency surgeries for such things as strokes, heart attacks and trauma would not be postponed, nor would urgent cancer surgeries, said Simpson. However, operations such as hip and knee replacements would be deferred. 

Ontario has not ordered such an across-the-board postponement of non-emergency surgeries since the first wave of the pandemic hit the province in March 2020. 

Postponing elective surgeries frees capacity in ICUs because some patients need critical care after their operations, sometimes because of the intensity of the surgery or because of complications, said Simpson. 

“We need to ensure that every ounce of capacity that we have is used as best as we possibly can,” he said.

Ontario already has a backlog of more than 245,000 medical procedures deferred from earlier in the pandemic, according to the most recent provincial data. 

The Ford government allocated an extra $ 1.8 billion in last month’s provincial budget to help hospitals care for COVID-19 patients and clear the backlog.

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CBC | Health News

Why comparing COVID-19 hospitalization numbers between provinces isn’t apple to apples

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital and intensive care has been on the rise in many provinces lately, but comparing these numbers isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. Not all provinces count patients the same way.

The key difference is whether the official numbers include patients who remain in hospital or intensive care units (ICU) but are no longer considered infectious.

In Alberta, these patients are included in the data that the province publishes daily.

“We report them as long as they are hospitalized with COVID-19 as a contributing cause, regardless of whether they are infectious,” said Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan.

Health officials in Quebec and Saskatchewan say they count patients in the same way.

But British Columbia does it differently.

“Patients in ICU in B.C. with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious are not in the ICU totals that are reported daily,” Justine Ma with B.C.’s Provincial Health Services Authority said in an email.

It’s not entirely clear if the same applies to B.C. patients who are hospitalized outside of ICUs. Asked for clarification on that, Ma did not answer.

Manitoba, meanwhile, reports both numbers.

As of Wednesday’s daily update, the province said 61 patients were in hospital with active COVID-19, as well as 79 more patients who are no longer infectious but continue to require care, for a total of 140 hospitalizations.

This included 12 patients in ICU who remain infectious and 18 who are no longer infectious, for a total of 30.

Ontario recently started making this distinction when it comes to ICU patients as well — but not for the total number of patients in hospital.

Ontario changes ICU reporting method

As of last week, the Ontario government’s official data started differentiating between the “number of patients in ICU, testing positive for COVID-19” (i.e. those who are still considered infectious) and the “number of patients in ICU, testing negative for COVID-19.”

As of Wednesday, the data showed 504 total COVID-19 patients in Ontario ICUs, 476 of whom were still testing positive and considered infectious.

The Ontario government had come under some criticism recently for reporting the lower number only, while Critical Care Services Ontario, a separate government agency, reported the higher number.

Ontario’s public-facing COVID-19 data website now shows both numbers: the higher number in the daily “overview of cases” and the lower numbers in a chart of past hospitalization data.

It’s not clear how New Brunswick reports its data, which showed 18 people in hospital on Wednesday including 12 in intensive care. CBC News has asked the province’s health ministry for clarification but has yet to receive a reply.

In the rest of Atlantic Canada, meanwhile, hospitalizations for COVID-19 remain rare.

As of Wednesday, Nova Scotia was reporting one patient in hospital (outside of ICU) while Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador each reported zero hospitalized patients.

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CBC | Health News

Experts question whether Canucks can finish season following COVID-19 outbreak

The NHL says it remains hopeful the Vancouver Canucks can complete a 56-game schedule even though 25 members of the team have tested positive for a variant form of COVID-19, but some experts question if that is possible.

The Canucks released a statement Wednesday saying 21 players, including three on the taxi squad, plus four staff members, “have tested positive and the source infection is confirmed a variant.” Which variant has not been confirmed.

On Tuesday, when the Canucks had 18 players on the COVID-19 protocol list, an NHL spokesman said “a 56-game season is still the focus,” but if necessary the league has some flexibility on scheduling the opening of the playoffs. Asked Wednesday if anything had changed following the Canucks’ announcement, the spokesman said, “my answer is the same as it was yesterday.”

An NHL agent said he had heard nothing about any plans to cancel games.

“So far it sounds like they will push forward based on what I’m hearing,” the agent said.

WATCH | Concerns intensify amid Canucks’ growing outbreak:

Twenty-five members of the Vancouver Canucks organization have tested positive for a COVID-19 variant and it has put the remainder of the team’s season in question. 1:55

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician for St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, said studies have shown people affected by the different variants “will recover on pace,” but depending on the severity of the virus — professional players may need extra time to regain their conditioning.

“They may be out of quarantine in 10 days, but a lot of players may not return after they are considered clear,” he said. “They may actually need a few weeks to get back to hockey normal.”

The Canucks’ situation is complicated because so many players have contracted the virus.

“If you have an outbreak of five or six [players] you can fill in the gaps, you can wait for some of your players to condition properly,” Chagla said. “At 21 players, that’s 21 different players that need to condition properly, that’s 21 players that need to get back into shape, get over their COVID and heal.”

Recovering from the virus is different from rehabbing after a sports injury.

“[A] lot of these guys, it sounds like, were in bed at home,” Chagla said. “You’re losing muscle mass; you’re losing that elite shape.”

WATCH | Vancouver Canucks sidelined by COVID-19:

The Vancouver Canucks have cancelled several upcoming games after a COVID-19 outbreak hit at least half the team’s roster. 1:59

When the first Canuck player tested positive last week, Vancouver’s next four games were postponed. The Canucks were scheduled to return to play Thursday in Calgary against the Flames. The Canucks’ website now says that game and another on Saturday in Calgary have been postponed.

The NHL season was originally scheduled to end May 8 but has already been extended to May 11 to allow for previously postponed games.

The Canucks have 19 regular season games remaining.

The cost of doing business

Corey Hirsch, a former NHL goaltender who is now a member of the Canucks’ radio broadcast team, worries about the physical strain forced on players if they are expected to play their remaining games in a condensed period of time after overcoming the virus.

“You are talking about the whole team,” he said. “You’re not only talking about one guy. My question would be if they are at risk of injury because of the physical shape they are in.”

Moshe Lander, a senior lecturer in the economics of sports, gaming and gambling at Concordia University in Montreal, said the Canucks’ situation is a result of the NHL “not bubbling up for a season.”

“The NHL has accepted this is the cost of doing business,” said Lander.

Delaying the start of the playoffs creates problems for teams in the other three divisions, Lander said. The league also won’t want the playoffs extending into late July because of the Tokyo Summer Games.

Last year’s playoffs, which included a play-in round, began Aug. 1 and ended Sept. 28.

Lander predicts Vancouver might only play 50 games, which will impact other teams in the NHL’s North Division.

“A whole bunch of Canuck games are going to be cancelled, not going to be made up,” he said. “You’re cancelling games against the Oilers, or the Canadiens, or [other teams] that are playoff-bound so their ranking system is going to be disrupted.

“The NHL has protocols in place to determine tiebreakers. I’m assuming it’s just going to be best winning percentage. Everybody has played enough games at this point that you have a reasonable enough sample size to know who [the playoff teams] are.”

Even before the virus struck, Vancouver faced an uphill battle to make the playoffs.

Heading into Wednesday night, the Canucks (16-18-3) trailed Montreal by eight points for the final playoff spot in the North Division.

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CBC | Sports News

Vancouver Canucks confirm variant responsible for team’s COVID-19 outbreak

The Vancouver Canucks confirm a variant of the COVID-19 virus is responsible for the outbreak that has ravaged the team.

“As of today, 25 individuals have tested positive and the source infection is confirmed a variant — full genome sequencing by [B.C. Centre for Disease Control] will be required to determine which specific type,” reads the statement from the team.

So far, 21 players and four staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. An additional player is considered a close contact.

Earlier, the chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health told CBC News that officials had traced how the virus first gained a foothold in the team.

“The cluster at the Vancouver Canucks … we do know how the virus entered that community,” said Dr. Patricia Daly. “We don’t provide details of any cases.” 

The Canucks statement said the source is “a single individual obtained in a community setting, which has since been identified by public health as a public exposure location.”

“Rapid spread of infection throughout the team indicates a link between contacts and the primary case.”

Forward Adam Gaudette was the first member of the team to test positive for COVID-19 and was pulled off the ice mid-practice on March 30. 

Defenceman Travis Hamonic followed the next day and the NHL postponed the Canucks game against the Calgary Flames that evening.

Five more games have since been postponed as the virus spread among players and staff.

With the team having played just 37 of 56 regular season games, it’s unclear what the remainder of the season will bring. 

An NHL spokesperson said “a 56-game season is still the focus” but if necessary, the league has some flexibility on scheduling the opening of playoffs.”

The prolonged layoff while battling the virus could be another blow to Vancouver’s already precarious playoff hopes.

Heading into Wednesday night, the Canucks (16-18-3) trailed Montreal by eight points for the final playoff spot.

“The health and safety of players, staff, families and the greater community remains the utmost priority,” said the Canucks.  

“This is a stark reminder of how quickly the virus can spread and its serious impact, even among healthy, young athletes.

All staff and players remain in quarantine, according to the team.

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CBC | Sports News

Study suggests vaccines may improve symptoms for some COVID-19 long-haulers

Elaine McCartney typically keeps a list on hand of her 30 or so health issues following a bout of COVID-19 a year ago— in part because she just can’t keep track of them all.

There’s the severe fatigue and memory issues. Brain fog, much like after a concussion. Constant headaches, low appetite, round-the-clock dizziness. And on and on.

The 65-year-old from Guelph, Ont., has been experiencing those symptoms for close to a year, after developing what felt like a severe case of influenza in April 2020 and which a physician identified as a probable case of the COVID-19 illness. 

Then last month she got her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Her condition quickly seemed to improve.

“I was able to go to the store on my own, which I haven’t done for eight months,” McCartney said. “And my energy was up, and my pain was less. I had chronic debilitating pain in my shoulder, and it was gone.”

McCartney’s experience may offer a glimmer of hope for a growing number of people around the world living with prolonged health concerns after being infected with the virus causing the COVID-19 illness.

She’s not the only patient seeing unexpected improvements. Emerging research suggests vaccines may reduce symptoms for some of those suffering from what is now being called “long COVID”, where patients continue to suffer from a range of health concerns long after the infectious phase of the illness has passed. 

‘Reassuring’ findings from U.K. study

More than a year into the pandemic, it’s not clear how many people are experiencing long-term health issues after having COVID-19, but their numbers are growing.

Researchers think around 10 per cent of people who get sick with COVID-19 continue to live with lasting symptoms — some suggest the number could be as high as 30 per cent — which could mean millions worldwide are coping with some lingering issues from the disease.

A new preprint study out of the U.K., which is still awaiting the peer review process, looked at a small group of such “long COVID” patients. It found those who had received at least one dose of the vaccine had “a small overall improvement” in long COVID symptoms and a “decrease in worsening symptoms” when compared to the unvaccinated patients.

The researchers followed 66 hospitalized patients whose symptoms persisted — issues like fatigue, breathlessness, and insomnia — including 44 who got vaccinated and 22 who didn’t.


Emerging research suggests vaccines may reduce symptoms for some of those suffering from “long Covid”, or lingering symptoms after a bout of COVID-19. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

A little over 23 per cent of the vaccinated patients saw some resolution of their symptoms, the researchers noted, compared to around 15 per cent of those who weren’t vaccinated — with no difference in response identified between the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines used among the participants.

The team also found another “reassuring result” — fewer vaccinated patients reported any worsening symptoms during the time period studied than the unvaccinated group, though they cautioned that there was a large potential for bias given patients self-reported their symptoms. 

Dr. Fergus Hamilton, an infectious diseases researcher at the University of Bristol Medical School and part of the team behind the new study, said the findings offer a “slight hint” that vaccines might improve lingering symptoms.

“Although we’re a bit suspicious about that given the small numbers,” he added.

Science behind vaccine impact not clear

The study is limited by its small sample size, but other medical experts are observing a similar trend.

In the U.S., where roughly a quarter of the population is fully vaccinated, physicians now have a large pool of patients to follow.

Dr. Daniel Griffin, an infectious diseases physician at Columbia University in New York, said around 40 per cent of the patients he is treating for lingering health issues from COVID-19 are reporting either complete, or significant, improvement in their symptoms after being fully vaccinated.

He said the numbers in the U.K. study were “pretty on-target” with what he initially observed in his own patients, but that the impact seemed to bump up a couple weeks after people got their second dose.

“That’s the first bit of good news in a really a long time,” Griffin said.

But he acknowledged the mechanics behind why vaccination might clear up lingering COVID-19 symptoms isn’t yet clear.

WATCH | Long-COVID sufferers struggle with limited care options:

Kim Clark and Sonja Mally have jumped from specialist to specialist for the past year as they’ve sought relief for a series of crippling symptoms associated with post-acute COVID-19 syndrome. Some health experts say more dedicated funding and resources for COVID long-haulers would help sufferers like them and shed light on a little-understood aspect of the pandemic. 2:27

“I think the most persuasive theory for me is that the virus was never completely cleared, or whatever remnants might still be … are now able to be cleared because of the robust response that’s triggered by the vaccines,” Griffin said.

McCartney said her own post-vaccination experience felt nothing short of a miracle — even if the science behind what’s happening in her body remains hazy and more research needed to evaluate how much vaccines could actually help COVID long-haulers going forward.

“I was feeling so miserable, for so long,” she said.

“I’ve logged more than a thousand steps in the past four days and I haven’t done that for months and months and months — so I’ve definitely seen improvement.”

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CBC | Health News

Canucks’ COVID-19 outbreak grows to 18 players with Virtanen added to protocol list

B.C.’s provincial health officer says the COVID-19 outbreak sweeping through the Vancouver Canucks hockey team is a “cautionary tale.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters Tuesday that what’s happening with the team is a reminder that the virus spreads “very, very easily.”

“It just tells us that once this virus gets hold, it can spread very quickly, despite having routine testing protocols, having protocols to try and protect people as much as possible,” she said.

Right-winger Jake Virtanen was the latest Canuck placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list Tuesday. Eighteen of the 22 players on the team’s active roster are currently on the list.

Officials with Vancouver Coastal Health have been working with the team to make sure players and their families are being tested and getting the health care they need, Henry added.

She also disputed multiple reports that the Canucks’ outbreak is linked to the P1 variant first identified in Brazil.

WATCH | Canucks sidelined by COVID-19:

The Vancouver Canucks have cancelled several upcoming games after a COVID-19 outbreak hit at least half the team’s roster. 1:59

“I’m not aware that any of the cases in the Canucks organization are related to P1,” she said. “I don’t know where that started, but not that I’m aware of.”

The Canucks and NHL have not commented publicly on results of tests since coach Travis Green confirmed the initial case last week.

Vancouver forward Adam Gaudette was the first to test positive during the outbreak, and was pulled off the ice midway through practice on March 30 after the result came back.

The NHL postponed four Canucks games the following evening when defenceman Travis Hamonic and a member of the coaching staff were added to the list.

Two additional games are now listed as postponed on the Canucks’ website and it’s unclear when Vancouver will return to the ice. A total of six games have been postponed.

Vancouver forwards Travis Boyd, Jalen Chatfield, Jayce Hawryluk, Nils Hoglander, Bo Horvat, Zack MacEwen, Marc Michaelis, Tyler Motte, Antoine Roussel and Brandon Sutter, defencemen Alex Edler, Quinn Hughes and Tyler Myers, and goalies Thatcher Demko and Braden Holtby have all joined the list over the past week.

A player on the COVID-19 protocol list has not necessarily tested positive. Players who are in self-isolation after travelling or who’ve been in close contact with someone who tested positive, for example, are also on the list.

The list does not include team staff or players not on the active roster, including those on the taxi squad.

The league’s protocols require players and staff to be tested daily. Any time an individual’s initial test comes back positive, the lab does a second test on the initial sample.

If the second test is negative, a second sample is collected. But if that sample returns a positive result, it’s considered to be a “confirmed positive.”

The Canucks’ outbreak comes amid a surge in cases across B.C. The province recorded 1,068 new cases Tuesday.

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CBC | Sports News

NHL expresses concern over Canucks’ COVID-19 protocol situation

The NHL’s deputy commissioner says the Vancouver Canucks’ COVID-19 outbreak is a concern, but he remains confident the team will be able to complete its schedule.

In an email to The Canadian Press on Monday, Bill Daly says the team’s numbers are “concerning from a health and safety standpoint, not necessarily from a scheduling standpoint.”

Daly said the league believes the Canucks will return and conclude their 56-game schedule.

He also said the league will not change its COVID-19 protocols in the aftermath of the Canucks’ situation.

After forward Adam Gaudette’s positive test came back last Tuesday, practice continued without him, and then last Wednesday morning’s skate went ahead.

Left-winger Nils Hoglander was added to the NHL’s protocol list on Monday. Seventeen of the 22 players on the Canucks’ active roster are now on the protocol list.

WATCH | Canucks sidelined by COVID-19:

The Vancouver Canucks have cancelled several upcoming games after a COVID-19 outbreak hit at least half the team’s roster. 1:59

A player on the list has not necessarily tested positive — the list, for example, also has players who must self-isolate for being in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 or for travel reasons. A player who tests positive must self-isolate for 10 days.

The list is updated every day at 5 p.m. ET.

The team has had four games officially postponed because of the virus, and it appears it will be sidelined longer. The Canucks are next scheduled to face the Calgary Flames on Thursday and Saturday, but the NHL announced Calgary will face the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday instead. The league also moved Friday’s match between the Oilers and Ottawa to Thursday.

P1 variant suspected

Multiple reports have said the P1 variant first identified in Brazil is suspected to be involved in the Canucks’ outbreak, but the Canucks and NHL have not commented publicly on results of tests since the Vancouver organization confirmed Gaudette had tested positive last week.

A Canadian infectious disease specialist says more information is needed on the Canucks before deeper analysis is possible.

“I think it’s a bit early to speculate about what’s happening with the Canucks. I mean I suspect that the outbreak there is likely going to turn out to be related to P1, but we don’t know yet whether anyone’s going to have severe infections,” said Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease expert with the University of Alberta.

“Certainly any of the variants, including what we call the wild type or the original variant, are able to cause symptomatic disease in young people; it’s just the degree of symptomatology that is variable. And so it’s difficult to draw conclusions just from one small group, but certainly this should put Canadians on notice.”


The Vancouver Canucks have had four games officially postponed because of the virus, and it appears the team will be sidelined longer. It’s next scheduled to face the Calgary Flames on Thursday and Saturday, but the NHL announced Calgary will face the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday instead. (The Canadian Press)

The biggest previous COVID-19 outbreaks in the NHL were all in the United States.

The Dallas Stars had their first four games of the season postponed after 17 players tested positive — most of whom were asymptomatic.

The New Jersey Devils had 19 players on the COVID-19 protocol list and seven games postponed earlier this season, while the Buffalo Sabres had nine players on the list and six games postponed.

Schwartz said it’s not surprising to see an outbreak on a team, even though there is regular testing.

“I think it was just a matter of time, and it’s sort of similar to what we saw unfold with the White House and the outbreaks that occurred there,” he said.

“Basically we know that testing is not intervention in and of itself. It’s able, perhaps, to identify people who are infected earlier than if we were just waiting for the development of symptoms alone, but if it’s not also implemented with other safeguards and restrictions, it’s basically like relying on a pregnancy test to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. So I think it’s probably expecting too much for the testing alone to be able to prevent the infection.”

The Canucks’ outbreak comes with the vaccine rollout going slower in Canada than in many states in the U.S.

“There’s two different countries, different rules, different situations,” Calgary Flames centre Mikael Backlund said. “There’s nothing we can do about it really. We’ve just got to wait for our turn.”

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CBC | Sports News

COVID-19 shots for school? What needs to happen to get kids in Canada immunized

Parents and children wanting to know when COVID-19 vaccines could roll out to Canada’s youngest people recently got a glimpse at the answers.

Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, said it is “likely that Pfizer, if all the data is fine, may be the first” vaccine that children and teens could receive.

Pfizer and BioNTech said in a media release on Wednesday that their COVID-19 vaccine, BNT162b2, is safe with “demonstrated 100 per cent efficacy” in preventing the disease in teens aged 12 to 15.

The data hasn’t been peer reviewed or scrutinized by regulators like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada.

In the trial of 2,260 adolescents, there were 18 cases of COVID-19 in the group that got a placebo shot and none among those who received the vaccine.

Side-effects were similar to those reported in clinical trials in adults, such as pain at the injection site, headaches, fever and fatigue.

WATCH | Pfizer’s early data on vaccine for kids:

Pfizer-BioNTech says its vaccine is safe and showed 100 per cent efficacy in a clinical trial of 12- to 15-year-olds. Health officials say more data is needed, but parents are optimistic about the results. 2:03

Sharma said Health Canada will review Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine data on younger teens “in a couple of weeks.” Full data, including on children aged six to 12, is expected in months.

Any approvals will only come after the regulator checks the data for safety, efficacy and quality.

Pfizer’s vaccine has been cleared for people as young as 16 in Canada.

Dr. Noni MacDonald, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Dalhousie University in Halifax who researches vaccine safety, said Pfizer’s research is a “bridging study.”

In a bridging study, researchers check if antibody and cell-based immune responses are equivalent to what’s seen in adults. For Pfizer, they were.

“The results are really very encouraging,” MacDonald said.

Protection for all Canadians

Moderna is also conducting a clinical trial in Canada for children aged five to 11. The results are expected early in 2022. The company also launched a trial in those aged six months to less than 12 in the U.S. in March. 

Johnson & Johnson, which recently won approval for its vaccine in adults in Canada and the U.S., expanded its Phase 2 trial for those aged 12 to 17 and plans to include younger children.

 AstraZeneca launched in similar trial in February

But it’s only when vaccines roll out in the real world to children with diabetes, heart disease and other underlying conditions that answers on effectiveness will be clearer.

“We want to protect everybody in our community, even those who cannot be immunized or will not respond to the vaccine,” MacDonald said. “To do that, we need children, we need teenagers, we need young adults, we need middle-aged adults and we need older people.”

Alyson Kelvin, an assistant professor at Dalhousie working on COVID-19 vaccines at the VIDO lab in Saskatoon, said she’s excited about how the vaccines could help children return to school and sports.

“Children can be infected with the virus and pass on the virus,” Kelvin said. “Even though we might not see clinical disease in kids or the clinical disease might not be as severe as in adults, it’s really important that children are not able to be part of the transmission chain.”

MacDonald hopes vaccines could be ready for younger teens by September, in time for mass immunization programs in school.

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