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 3, 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.
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Here are the latest figures given on June 3 for May 22 to 28:
• Hospitalized cases: 421
• 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
• Hospitalizations from COVID gradually dropping in B.C.
• Vaccination during pregnancy cuts infant infections, according to a study
• Canada has authorized a single booster shot of Pfizer and partner BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for 16- and 17-year-olds.
• 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.
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.
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.
—The Canadian Press
Vaccination during pregnancy cuts infant infections; vaccines only modestly reduce long COVID risk
COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy appears to lower newborns’ risk of coronavirus infection, according to a study conducted in Norway.
Norwegian researchers tracked 9,739 babies whose mothers received a second or third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna while pregnant, and 11,904 babies whose mothers were not vaccinated before or during pregnancy.
Overall, COVID infections were rare in the babies. But the risk of a positive COVID-19 PCR test during the first four months of life was 71 per cent lower during the Delta era and 33 per cent lower when Omicron was dominant for babies whose mothers got vaccinated during pregnancy compared with infants born to unvaccinated mothers, the researchers reported on Wednesday in JAMA Internal Medicine.
“There could still be a protective effect from antibodies past the first four months, but there are likely individual differences,” said Dr. Ellen Oen Carlsen of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Babies get another type of antibodies from breast milk, she noted, and the findings could partly be due to antibodies acquired from breastfeeding, or because vaccinated mothers are less likely to get COVID-19 and infect their babies.
Read the full story here.
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.
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.
COVID cases on rise in Americas, nations must monitor other viruses: PAHO
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, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.
The Americas saw 1,087,390 new COVID cases and 4,155 deaths last week.
Cases in South America rose 43.1 per cent, the biggest jump in the region, while the highest increase in COVID-related deaths was in Central America at 21.3 per cent, 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.”
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.)
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 supply 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.
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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