December 10, 2023

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

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Here’s your update with everything you need to know on the COVID-19 situation in B.C. and around the world for July 19, 2022.

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We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly every day this week, with developments added as they happen, so be sure to check back often.

You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Here are the latest B.C. figures given on July 14:

• Hospitalized cases: 426
• Intensive care: 34
• New cases: 973 over seven days ending July 9
• Total number of confirmed cases: 376,329
• Total deaths over seven days until July 9: 22 (total 3,823)

Read the full report here | Next update: July 21 at 3 p.m. (or later)

Headlines at a glance

• Random COVID testing is back at four Canadian airports, including YVR
• Younger Canadian men less likely to take pandemic precautions, found a new poll
• Two out of three vaccinated in B.C. ready for a booster: Poll
• Quebec avoids new COVID mandates ahead of fall election
• In Ontario, a Catholic nurse wins right to be exempted from COVID vaccine
• ‘Challenging autumn’ ahead in Europe with lax COVID rules: WHO official
ArriveCAN ‘glitch’ ordering vaccinated Canadians into quarantine
• Shanghai and other Chinese cities enforce testing, extend lockdowns of millions
• Japan reports record number of COVID cases as summer holidays set to begin
• Pandemic behind ‘largest backslide in childhood vaccination in a generation,’ said the United Nations
• Edmonton church fined $80k after blocking COVID-19 inspection
• How do travellers feel about the return of random COVID-19 testing in Canada?
• B.C. urges parents of babies and toddlers to get a COVID vaccine after Health Canada approval

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Random COVID-19 testing returns at major Canadian airports, including YVR

Mandatory random COVID-19 testing of travellers arriving at four major Canadian airport, including YVR, starts today.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says the tests will be done offsite. This applies to travellers arriving at Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver airports.The tests “will be completed outside of airports, either via an in-person appointment at select testing provider locations and pharmacies, or a virtual appointment for a self-swab test,” PHAC said in a statement.

After travellers complete their customs declaration — including those who qualify as fully vaccinated and those who do not — they will receive an email within 15 minutes if they are selected for mandatory random testing.

Random testing was paused on June 11 as a “temporary measure” in order to coordinate how offsite testing would work.

The reason for the shift is to be able to “quickly respond to new variants of concern, or changes to the epidemiological situation,” according to PHAC.

There are no changes to those crossing land borders, with mandatory random testing still in place.

— The National Post

Younger Canadian men less likely to take pandemic precautions in face of seventh wave: Poll

Concern among Canadians over a looming COVID-19 wave is split along generational and gender lines, with men younger than 55 less concerned over contracting the virus and less likely to mask up or take precautions, according to a new poll.

The Angus Reid Institute survey, released Tuesday, found that 68 per cent of Canadians 55 and older are more worried about getting sick compared to 44 per cent for the 35- to 54-year-olds and 43 per cent for 18-to 34-year-olds.

Older Canadians are more likely to have experienced severe impacts from a COVID-19 infection, which would lead to heightened personal concern over contracting the virus, noted the non-profit institute: “However, the gap in concern between 35- to 54-year-olds and those over the age of 55 has never been as wide as it is currently.”

Overall, about half of Canadians (53 per cent) said they are concerned about personally getting sick with COVID, lower than late 2021 before the initial Omicron wave when three-in-five Canadians had those concerns.

Read the full story here.

— Cheryl Chan

Two out of three vaccinated in B.C. ready for a booster, but vaccine skepticism is significant

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Two out of three vaccinated British Columbians are ready to get a COVID-19 booster shot as soon as they are eligible — among the highest rates in Canada — according to a new poll from the Angus Reid Institute.

While 66 per cent in B.C. who have had at least a couple of doses say they’re ready to get another shot when it’s offered, the Canadian average is just over 60 per cent. There are also plenty of skeptics about the effectiveness of the vaccines in the province, and our neighbours to the east are even more reluctant.

Nine per cent in B.C. say they are unvaccinated, which is about the national average, compared with 16 per cent in Alberta, the highest rate of non-vaccination in the country.

Read the full story here.

— Joe Ruttle

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Quebec avoids new COVID mandates ahead of fall election as hospitals fill up

A new wave of COVID-19 cases and rising hospitalizations ahead of an October election are creating fresh headaches for Quebec’s government, which says it has no plans to reintroduce mask mandates in the Canadian province despite calls by some doctors to do so.

A global surge in cases, mostly of the Omicron BA.4/5 variants, has authorities grappling with rising illness while trying to avoid extending or reintroducing unpopular restrictions.

In Quebec, some now say the government that once imposed some of North America’s toughest COVID-19 measures is not going far enough.

Donald Vinh, a doctor with the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, called on Quebec to reinstate a mask mandate in indoor public places to prevent worsening illness and death.

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But the government is “afraid of angry voters,” Vinh said. “They’re not afraid of dead voters.”

Like other Canadian provinces Quebec is in a seventh wave, with more than 7,000 health-care workers off the job due to the virus, according to government data. Quebec is scaling back summer service in six emergency rooms due to staffing shortages.

— Reuters

Catholic nurse wins right to be exempted from COVID vaccine

A Catholic nurse in Ontario had a right to a religious exemption from COVID-19 vaccination because of the “quite remote” link between the shots and aborted fetuses, an arbitrator has ruled in one of the first legal pronouncements on the issue.

Pope Francis and other Catholic leaders have urged adherents to get COVID shots, with the pontiff suggesting it is a “moral obligation.” The fact some vaccines were developed or made with cell lines derived from fetuses terminated decades ago does not mean Catholics are condoning abortion, they say.

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But arbitrator Robert Herman said Public Health Sudbury discriminated against the unnamed nurse — a member of the conservative “Latin Mass” group of Catholics — when it fired her for not being immunized.

COVID vaccination would interfere with “the exercise of her faith and her relationship with the divine,” he said.

Vaccine mandates have gradually been lifted throughout Canada and employees have always been able to at least apply for a religious exemption, with no guarantee of success.

— The National Post

Europe faces ‘challenging autumn’ with lax COVID rules, WHO says

A top World Health Organization official called on European countries to beef up virus monitoring and bring back some curbs to tackle Covid-19’s resurgence in bid to protect health systems and avert disruption.

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Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, asked governments to promote mask-wearing in public transportation, ventilate crowded spaces like schools, and bolster vaccination as he forecast “a challenging autumn and winter.”

The number of cases in Europe has tripled in the past six weeks, with almost 3 million infections reported last week, Kluge said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

Governments across Europe have been reluctant to embrace mandatory measures, instead opting to roll out additional booster shots to the most vulnerable, deliver safety messages and let citizens make their own choices.

The WHO official also said most countries have reduced surveillance too much, creating “a dangerous blind spot” in scientists’ understanding of how the virus is evolving.

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— Bloomberg

ArriveCan ‘glitch’ ordering vaccinated Canadians into quarantine without reason

OTTAWA — According to the government of Canada’s ArriveCan app, David Crouch should be at home, avoiding all contact, quarantining, to protect others from the COVID-19 there is absolutely no indication he has.

Crouch is quadruple vaccinated, has not tested positive for COVID-19 and is showing no symptoms. The border guard who waved him back into Canada last week said nothing about getting a COVID test, or quarantine, but when he got home he found an email and a notification in his ArriveCan app, telling him to stay home for two weeks.

Read the full story here.

— Postmedia News

Shanghai, other Chinese cities enforce testing, extend lockdowns

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Several large Chinese cities including Shanghai are rolling out new mass testing or extending lockdowns on millions of residents to counter new clusters of COVID-19 infections, with some measures being criticized on the internet.

China has reported an average of around 390 local daily infections in the seven days ending on Sunday, higher than about 340 seven days earlier, according to Reuters calculations based on official data as of Monday.

While that is tiny compared with a resurgence in other parts of Asia, China is adamant about implementing its dynamic zero COVID policy of eliminating outbreaks as soon as they emerge. Previously when a flare-up became a major outbreak, local officials had been compelled to take tougher measures such as month-long lockdowns, even at the cost of economic growth.

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Read the full story here.

— Reuters

Japan COVID cases hit record as summer holidays set to begin

Japan found a record 110,600 new COVID cases on Saturday, surpassing the previous high set in February, just as the country prepares for the summer holidays, public broadcaster NHK said.

Deaths and severe illness have remained at relatively low levels so far in the current wave.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told a July 14 news conference that he wasn’t planning any return to restrictions on people’s movements, nor thinking of strengthening border controls at that point. The premier — fresh from a July 10 upper house election victory — has previously won public support for his cautious stance on Covid, including encouraging mask-wearing and maintaining border restrictions long after other developed countries had opened up.

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He may be more reluctant to seek limits on people’s movements now, with the economy stuttering and the yen in a slump not seen for decades.

Read the full story here.

— Bloomberg

Pandemic behind ‘largest backslide in childhood vaccination in a generation’: UN

Around 25 million children around the world missed out on routine vaccinations last year that protect against life-threatening diseases, as the knock-on effects of the pandemic continue to disrupt health care globally.

That is two million more children than in 2020, when COVID-19 caused lockdowns around the world, and six million more than pre-pandemic in 2019, according to new figures released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

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Read the full story here.

— Reuters

Edmonton church, pastor fined $80K after obstructing COVID-19 health inspection

An Edmonton church and one of its co-pastors have been fined $80,000 after Alberta Health inspectors were refused entry to the building on multiple occasions last year.

Church in the Vine of Edmonton, along with its co-pastor Tracy Fortin, was found guilty in May of three counts of obstructing an inspector who was looking to check if masking and social distancing rules were being followed.

“It is clear that the fine must be significant,” wrote Alberta provincial court Judge Shelagh Creagh in handing down the sentence. “It must be a deterrent, not a licensing fee.

“These offences are very serious.”

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Read the full story here.

— Postmedia News

How do travellers feel about the return of random COVID-19 testing in Canada?

Travellers passing through the Ottawa area appear divided on the federal government’s move to reinstate random COVID-19 testing for international passengers.

The move, set to go into effect on Tuesday, applies to travellers coming into Canada through international airports in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto. While Ottawa is not included, most people coming to the capital region from abroad must transit through one of those other airports first.

Speaking to travellers at the Ottawa International Airport on Friday, some supported the change as Ontario enters its seventh COVID-19 wave, others found it unnecessary and many were unaware of the policy change.

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“It’s a giant load of bullsh-t to be honest,” said Stef Brake, 33.

With the federal government recently pausing the vaccine requirements to board a plane or a train, Brake said she did not understand what difference mandatory random testing would do to stop the spread of COVID-19 with other restrictions no longer in place.

Bob White, 65, said he could not be happier about the government’s decision to reimplement random testing. “We’re not done with COVID yet,” he said.

Read the full story here.

— Postmedia News

B.C. urges parents of babies and toddlers to get a COVID vaccine after Health Canada approval

Babies as young as six months and toddlers and pre-schoolers up to age five in B.C. will soon be offered a vaccination against COVID-19 after Health Canada approved the jab for that age group.

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“It’s definitely a good idea to get infants or preschoolers vaccinated,” said assistant professor Devon Greyson of UBC’s school of population and public health. “If my children were that age, I would get them vaccinated as soon as I could.”

Even though the illness in young people “tends to be less severe” than in the elderly, for instance, it is important to protect young people against the lingering symptoms referred to as long COVID, “although these are rare,” said Greyson.

The affects of receiving the jab are similar to other vaccines, such as irritability, sleepiness, loss of appetite, and pain and a rash at the injection site.

Read the full story here.

Read more: Health Canada approves first COVID vaccine for kids under 5. Here’s what you need to know.

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— Susan Lazaruk

What are B.C.’s current public health measures?

MASKS: Masks are not required in public indoor settings though individual businesses and event organizers can choose to require them.

Masks are also encouraged but not required on board public transit and B.C. Ferries, though they are still required in federally regulated travel spaces such as trains, airports and airplanes, and in health care settings.

GATHERINGS AND EVENTS: There are currently no restrictions on gatherings and events such as personal gatherings, weddings, funerals, worship services, exercise and fitness activities, and swimming pools.There are also no restrictions or capacity limits on restaurants, pubs, bars and nightclubs; and no restrictions on sport activities.

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CARE HOMES: There are no capacity restrictions on visitors to long-term care and seniors’ assisted living facilities, however, visitors must show proof of vaccination before visiting. Exemptions are available for children under the age of 12, those with a medical exemption, and visitors attending for compassionate visits related to end-of-life.

Visitors to seniors’ homes are also required to take a rapid antigen test before visiting the facility or be tested on arrival. Exemptions to testing are available for those attending for compassionate visits or end-of-life care.

How do I get vaccinated in B.C.?

Everyone who is living in B.C. and eligible for a vaccine can receive one by following these steps:

• Get registered online at to book an appointment in your community.
• Or, if you prefer, you can get registered and then visit a drop-in clinic in your health authority.
• The system will alert you when it is time to go for your second dose.
• The same system will also alert you when it is time for your booster dose.

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Where can I get a COVID-19 test?

TESTING CENTRES: B.C.’s COVID-19 test collection centres are currently only testing those with symptoms who are hospitalized, pregnant, considered high risk or live/work with those who are high risk. You can find a testing centre using the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s testing centre map.

If you have mild symptoms, you do not need a test and should stay home until your fever is gone. Those without symptoms do not need a test.

TAKE-HOME RAPID ANTIGEN TESTS: Eligible British Columbians over the age of 18 with a personal health number can visit a pharmacy to receive a free take-home test kit containing five COVID-19 rapid antigen tests.

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