Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the COVID-19 situation in B.C. and around the world for May 20, 2022.
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.
Here are the latest figures given on May 19 for May 8 to May 14:
• Hospitalized cases: 540
• Intensive care: 49
• New cases: 1,645 over seven days
• Total number of confirmed cases: 369,202
• Total death over seven days: 59 (total 3,398)
Read the full report here | Next update: May 26 at 1 p.m. (or later)
Headlines at a glance
• There are 540 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in B.C., according to the latest provincial update shared May 19.
• Canada Day celebrations return to downtown Vancouver without fireworks
• North Korea hails ‘good results’ on COVID as fever cases pass 2 million
• Canada’s three biggest federal public sector unions are challenging the Liberals’ vaccine mandate for bureaucrats in court.
• An advisory panel to the U.S. CDC has voted to recommend COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for children ages 5 to 11, at least five months after completing their primary vaccination course.
• Britain’s vaccine advisers are planning an autumn COVID booster campaign aimed at people aged over 65, care home residents, frontline health and social care workers and all adults in a clinical risk group.
• The U.S. FDA chief says the agency will act as soon as possible on Moderna Inc’s application seeking approval of its COVID-19 vaccine for children under age 5.
540 individuals remain hospitalized with COVID-19
There are 540 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in B.C., according to the latest provincial update shared May 19.
The latest update covers the period from May 8 to 14.
Of those hospitalized, 49 are in intensive care. A total of 1,645 new cases of COVID were also recorded during that period, bringing B.C.’s total up to 369,202 since the start of the pandemic.
Another 59 people have also died of the virus, leaving the province’s death toll at 3,398.
Canada Day celebrations return to downtown Vancouver without fireworks
Canada Day celebrations will return to Vancouver’s downtown waterfront this summer for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The July 1 event at Canada Place will also see “significant changes designed to reimagine celebrations in the spirit of reconciliation.” Members of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations have been involved with the planning of the event, which will be named Canada Together. The theme will be “weaving together the fabric of a nation.”
“We are pleased to see the event taking a new direction, and to be collaborating with the port authority to help guide the direction and future of this gathering,” said Chief Wayne Sparrow with the Musqueam Indian Band.
“We are proud to build on the inclusion of the culture and history of the three nations on whose traditional territory the event takes place.”
The event will mark its 36th year in July and is the largest Canada Day celebration outside of Ottawa.
China’s capital Beijing reported 50 new symptomatic coronavirus cases for May 19, same as a day earlier, state media reported on Friday.
The city also reported 12 asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 for May 19, up from five a day earlier.
North Korea said on Friday it was achieving “good results” in its fight against its first confirmed COVID-19 outbreak, as the number of people with fever symptoms rose past 2 million.
A wave of COVID infections, which North Korea first confirmed last week, has fanned worry about a lack of medical resources and vaccines in the isolated country heavily sanctioned for its nuclear weapons program.
North Korea has not responded to offers from its old enemies, South Korea and the United States, to send help, a South Korean official said.
South Korea’s new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, and U.S. President Joe Biden, due to arrive in South Korea on a visit later on Friday, are expected to discuss help.
North Korea reported 263,370 more people with fever symptoms, and two more deaths, taking its total fever caseload since late April to 2.24 million as of Thursday evening, including 65 deaths, according to its KCNA state news agency.
Three public sector unions challenge ‘punitive’ federal vaccine mandate for bureaucrats
Canada’s three biggest federal public sector unions are challenging the Liberals’ vaccine mandate for bureaucrats in court, arguing suspending unvaccinated workers without pay instead of letting them return to work from home is “punitive” and “unjustified.”
“We continue to support vaccination. But given … the loosening of the COVID restrictions and the shifting landscape, we’re of the opinion that employer’s policy right now is unreasonable. These members can work from home,” Jennifer Carr, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), said in an interview.
“Effectively, we think it is punitive and an abuse of management authority.”
Within the last week, the National Post has learned that both PIPSC and the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE), which represent nearly 60,000 and 21,000 public servants respectively, have filed policy grievances against the federal government’s vaccine mandate for bureaucrats.
Read the full story here.
— National Post
U.S. expert panel backs COVID boosters for children 5 to 11
An advisory panel to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday voted to recommend COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for children ages 5 to 11, at least five months after completing their primary vaccination course.
The advisers considered data from the CDC that showed protection from the initial two shots starts to wane over time, and that boosters in older age groups improved efficacy against severe COVID and hospitalizations.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized booster doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for the age group on Tuesday as COVID cases are on the rise again in the United States.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky still needs to sign off on the committee’s recommendation, but signaled at the meeting that she was likely to back the additional shots.
Quebec coroner says many people share blame for high death toll in COVID first wave
Quebec’s coroner says there is plenty of blame to go around for the deaths of 47 residents of a private Montreal-area long-term care home during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coroner Gehane Kamel says the provincial government, the local health authority and the owners of the Herron care home “passed the ball around” while residents were left to die.
She spoke to reporters today for the first time since releasing her report earlier this week on her investigation into 53 deaths at several long-term care homes — including Herron — during the pandemic’s first wave.
Kamel says her mandate wasn’t to blame specific people but to make recommendations so that a similar situation doesn’t reoccur.
— The Canadian Press
U.K. vaccine advisers eye autumn COVID boosters for over-65s
Britain’s vaccine advisers on Thursday said that an anticipated autumn COVID booster campaign would be aimed at people aged over 65, care home residents, frontline health and social care workers and all adults in a clinical risk group.
Britain is offering a spring booster to the over-75s, care home residents and immunosuppressed people, and ministers have spoken openly of plans for a further booster campaign in the autumn.
In interim advice, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) stopped short of recommending another shot for all adults, though said the advice would be reviewed and updated.
“The JCVI’s current view is that in autumn 2022, a COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to: Residents in a care home for older adults and staff; Frontline health and social care workers; All those 65 years of age and over; Adults aged 16 to 64 years who are in a clinical risk group,” the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said in a statement.
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.
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.
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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