December 3, 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 daily update with everything you need to know on the COVID-19 situation in B.C. and around the world for June 2, 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 throughout the day, 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.

New COVID data is expected to be released today. Here are the latest figures given on May 26 for May 15 to May 21:

• Hospitalized cases: 265
• Intensive care: 41
• New cases: 1,163 over seven days
• Total number of confirmed cases: 370,559
• Total death over seven days: 44 (total 3,547)

Headlines at a glance

• Canada has authorized a single booster shot of Pfizer and partner BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for 16- and 17-year-olds.
• Omicron sub-variant fuels Portugal’s COVID-19 surge
• Rapid rise in Mumbai pushes India’s COVID numbers to month high
• Quebec has passed a law that ends the COVID-19 state of emergency today, but the government will retain some extra powers until the end of the year.
• Canada has extended border travel restrictions for at least a month after an Opposition motion was shot down in the House.
• COVID-19 cases in the Americas increased 10.4 per cent last week from the previous one, but countries must also pay attention to a rise in other respiratory viruses in the region, PAHO warned.
• A new study shows B.C. had one of the lowest mortality rates due to COVID-19 in North America, but it outstrips all provinces for excess deaths during the time of the pandemic.
• The U.S. Justice Department is asking a federal appeals court to overturn a judge’s April order that declared the government mandate requiring masks on airplanes, buses and in transit hubs unlawful.
• Vaccines do little to prevent long COVID: Study

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COVID-19: Hospitalizations from COVID gradually dropping in B.C.

The latest figures on COVID-19 in B.C. show 421 people were hospitalized with the illness as of Wednesday, with 41 of them in critical care.

The weekly report from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control says 44 people died during the week that ended Saturday, bringing the pandemic death toll to 3,547.

The centre says 265 people were admitted to hospital that week, down from 345 the week before, though it notes the numbers may increase as data is updated.

It says 1,163 new laboratory-confirmed cases were reported from May 22 to 28, down from 1,358 the week before, though case counts do not include positive results from at-home rapid tests.

Still, a situation report from May 15 to 21 shows the rate of COVID-19 per 100,000 people decreased across the Fraser, Interior and Vancouver Island health regions while remaining stable in the Northern and Vancouver Coastal Health areas.

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Since April, B.C. has been reporting all deaths from any cause when the person died within 30 days of a positive COVID-19 test result, with the centre saying it will do retrospective evaluations to better understand “true” COVID-19 mortality.

Canadian Press

Canada authorizes Pfizer COVID booster for 16- and 17-year-olds

Canada on Wednesday authorized a single booster shot of Pfizer and partner BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for 16- and 17-year-olds.

Regulator Health Canada had cleared an extra dose of the vaccine for people 18 and older in November last year. The booster is meant to be administered six months after the primary two-dose series.

The decision was based on data from two studies of the booster shot among individuals 16 and older. The agency said potential risks of inflammatory heart conditions, myocarditis or pericarditis, have been included in the shot’s label.

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The cases have been reported after administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s COVID-19 shot, especially among young men. Health Canada had authorized a primary series of Pfizer’s shot for those 16 and older in December 2020.

— Reuters

Omicron sub-variant fuels Portugal’s COVID-19 surge

An Omicron sub-variant has fuelled a surge in COVID-19 cases in Portugal that now has the world’s second-highest infection rate, potentially threatening the tourism sector’s recovery.

Portugal registered an average of 2,447 new cases per million people over the last seven days. That compares to neighbouring Spain’s 449 and Britain’s 70, according to tracker Our World In Data.

The rolling average has subsided slightly in the past few days and is just over a third of the Jan. 31 Omicron peak.

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Portugal has the world’s fifth-highest death rate from COVID-19 and hospitalisations are on the rise, but both are still far below previous peaks.


Rapid rise in Mumbai pushes India’s COVID numbers to month high

India’s health ministry reported 3,712 new coronavirus infections for the past twenty four hours on Thursday, the highest in nearly a month, driven up by a record number cases recorded in the financial capital, Mumbai.

The city reported 739 cases on Wednesday night, more than double the number it had recorded just two days earlier, 318.

“Trend graph of Mumbai shows a silent wave, mild omicron variants. Protect vulnerables, keep close watch on hospitalization,” Shashank Joshi, a member of the state government task force on COVID-19 said on Twitter late on Wednesday.

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Hospitalizations in Mumbai were low, and 96 per cent of the cases reported on Wednesday were asymptomatic, the city’s civic body said in its daily COVID-19 report.

“There is no rise in hospitalizations. People are quarantining themselves at home and recovering at home. There is no need to worry,” state health minister Rajesh Tope told reporters on Wednesday.


COVID cases on rise in Americas, nations must monitor other viruses: PAHO

COVID-19 cases in the Americas increased 10.4% last week from the previous one, but countries must also pay attention to a rise in other respiratory viruses in the region, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

The Americas saw 1,087,390 new COVID cases and 4,155 deaths last week.

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Cases in South America rose 43.1%, the biggest jump in the region, while the highest increase in COVID-related deaths was in Central America at 21.3%, PAHO said in a news conference, adding that cases in the region have been growing for the past six weeks.

Other respiratory viruses, such as influenza, Monkeypox and viral hepatitis, are also surging, and nations need to pay close attention to these diseases too, PAHO Director Dr. Carissa Etienne said.

“The flu virus is circulating again and not just during traditional flu season,” she said. “Countries should expand surveillance to monitor other respiratory viruses, not just COVID.”

— Reuters

Quebec government ends COVID-19 state of emergency but will keep some extra powers longer

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Quebec has passed a law that ends the COVID-19 state of emergency today, but the government will retain some extra powers until the end of the year.

The state of emergency was declared on March 13, 2020, and has allowed the government to govern by decree, award contracts without tender and circumvent collective agreements in the health sector.

Health Minister Christian Dube says the new law puts an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, but the government will retain certain exceptional powers until the end of December to provide operational flexibility.

Dube defended the law as necessary, saying most of the remaining measures are aimed at allowing for a quick response — such as calling in temporary workers and vaccinators — in the event of a new wave of COVID-19.

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Read the full story here.

— The Canadian Press

COVID travel restrictions to remain after opposition motion shot down in House

COVID-19 restrictions at the border will remain in place for at least another month after a Conservative motion calling for the removal of all pandemic travel restrictions was shot down.

The motion put forward by Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman (Thornhill) was defeated 202 to 117 on Monday in the House of Commons.

Current COVID-19 travel restrictions include random testing, proof of vaccination verification, and completion of mandatory ArriveCAN questions before entering Canada from an international destination (although requirements vary based on a traveller’s age, citizenship and vaccination status).

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Lantsman said in her motion that these restrictions have led to “unacceptable wait times at Canadian airports.”

Read the full story here.

— National Post

B.C. had highest rate of unexpected deaths during pandemic: Study

B.C. had one of the lowest mortality rates due to COVID-19 in North America, but it outstrips all provinces for excess deaths during the time of the pandemic, according to a new study.

The study looked at the total number of deaths between March 2020 and October 2021, and found the “excess” — the number of deaths above what would normally be expected based on modelling and previous years — was highest, per capita, in B.C.

One possible reason for the higher number of excess deaths could be that intense attention on COVID-19 worsened B.C.’s ability to cope with other emergencies, including the heat dome during the summer of 2021 and the continuing crisis of a tainted suppy of street drugs, according to Kimberlyn McGrail, a University of B.C. professor who published an analysis paper on Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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Read the full story here.

— Joanne Lee-Young

Long COVID finding ‘disappointing’: Vaccines do little to prevent ongoing symptoms

There are many proven benefits to the COVID vaccine, including a significant decrease in the chance of hospitalization and death. But it doesn’t look like protection from long COVID — the continuation of symptoms months after a COVID diagnosis, which can impact the heart, brain, lungs or general wellness — is among those advantages, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Vaccination clearly provides needed protection, the study says, but “reliance on it as a sole mitigation strategy may not most optimally reduce the risk of the long-term health consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

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Vaccinated only slightly less likely to develop long COVID

The study found that people who had received a full round of COVID vaccination were less likely than the unvaccinated to develop long COVID six months after their infection, but only by a small margin, and only related to certain symptoms. The finding was “disappointing,” lead author Ziyad Al-Aly told the Washington Post.

Read the full story here.

— Postmedia News

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.

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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.

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.

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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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