Politics

COVID-19 update for May 2: Here’s what you need to know


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 May 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.


HEADLINES AT A GLANCE

• A national UBC study has found that people who catch COVID-19 during pregnancy were at increased risk of complications.
• For the first time in nearly a month, Ontario reported no deaths linked to COVID-19 on Monday.
• Asthma in children may worsen after an infection with the coronavirus, doctors warn.
• A third dose of an mRNA vaccine from Pfizer /BioNTech or Moderna may not boost the protection against Omicron among people who were previously infected with the coronavirus.
• New Zealand opens borders to 60 countries, including Canada, for the first time since 2020
• Setback for Shanghai’s COVID battle, Beijing tests millions
• New Omicron sublineages can dodge immunity from past infections
• Quebec has had as many deaths in current wave as B.C. in entire pandemic
• Weekly data shows 42 more deaths April 17-23, rise in hospitalizations and ICU admissions
• Moderna seeks Health Canada approval for COVID-19 vaccine for kids under six

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Here are the latest figures given on April 28 for the week of April 17 to 23:

• Hospitalized cases: 570 (as of April 28)
• Intensive care: 47 (as of April 28)
• Total deaths over seven days: 42 (total 3,147)
• New cases: 2,276 over seven days
• Total number of confirmed cases: 363,302

Read the full report here | Next update: May 5 at 1 p.m. or later


COVID-19: Pregnant women at increased risk of hospitalizations and pre-term births, said UBC study

People who catch COVID-19 during pregnancy were at increased risk of complications that could affect their pregnancy and their baby, found a newly-published national study.

The study by researchers at the University of B.C. examined 6,012 pregnancies between March 2020 and October 2021 where the mother-to-be had COVID-19 and found these pregnancies to be at increased risk of hospitalization, admission to intensive care, and pre-term births.

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UBC obstetrics and gynaecology professor Dr. Deborah Money launched the CANCOVID-Preg surveillance research program with other Canadian researchers in March 2020, during the onset of the pandemic and in a vacuum of information on the impact of the novel coronavirus on pregnancy.

Read the full story here.

— Cheryl Chan

Ontario reports no new COVID deaths for first time in nearly a month

Ontario reported no new deaths linked to COVID-19 Monday for the first time since April 4, after reporting 17 new deaths on Sunday.

The province reported there were 1,423 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, up 13 from the previous day, but noted that more than 10 per cent of facilities don’t share data from the weekends.

There were 211 people in intensive care due to COVID-19, an increase of 24 from the day before.

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Read the full story here.

— Canadian Press

COVID-19 worsens asthma in children

Asthma in children may worsen after an infection with the coronavirus, doctors warn.

They studied nearly 62,000 U.S. children with asthma who had PCR tests for the virus in the first year of the pandemic, including more than 7,700 who tested positive. Infected children had significantly more asthma visits, hospitalizations, emergency inhaler use, and steroid treatments during the six months after their illness compared to children who tested negative and to their own prior history, researchers reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

Children who tested negative for the virus “had improved asthma control for the next six months, meaning fewer emergency department visits and hospitalizations for asthma, and less asthma treatment,” said Dr. Christine Chou of Children’s Health of Orange County, in California.

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Results of earlier studies showing improvement in asthma control in the early part of the pandemic were likely due to public health measures like staying home and masking, which curbed exposure to asthma triggers, she said.

Despite the overall impression that children with asthma did well during the first year of the pandemic, Chou added, the new study shows “longer lasting harm of COVID on children’s asthma control.”

— Reuters

Booster after infection adds little extra benefit vs Omicron

Among people who were previously infected with the coronavirus, a third dose of an mRNA vaccine from Pfizer /BioNTech or Moderna may not boost their protection against the Omicron variant of the virus, according to new data.

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Researchers studied nearly 130,000 people tested for COVID in Connecticut from November 2021 through January 2022, including 10,676 with Omicron infections. Roughly 6-8 per cent had been infected with previous versions of the coronavirus, according to a report posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review.

Two doses of an mRNA vaccine did help protect against Omicron among people with prior infections, but “we did not detect an additional benefit of receiving a third booster dose among this population,” said Margaret Lind of Yale University.

A separate Canadian study, also posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review, similarly found that more than two vaccine doses “may be of marginal incremental value” for protecting previously-infected individuals against Omicron.

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The message, Lind said, “should be that (1) people should get two doses of mRNA vaccine regardless of if they have had a prior infection or not, that (2) people without prior infections should get a booster dose and that (3) people with prior infections should consider a booster dose, especially if they are in a high risk group for life threatening complications, but recognize that it may not provide significant additional protection against infection above two doses.”

— Reuters

New Zealand further eases COVID measures, opens borders to 60 more countries

New Zealand welcomed thousands of travellers from around the globe on Monday as the country opened its borders to visitors from around 60 nations including Canada, the United States, Britain and Singapore for the first time since COVID-19 hit in early 2020.

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Maori cultural performers sang songs at the arrivals gate in Auckland and travellers were handed popular locally made chocolate bars as the first flights came in from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Friends and family hugged and cried as people were reunited for what was for some the first time in more than two years.

Garth Halliday, who was waiting at the airport for his son, daughter-in-law and grandson to land from London, told local media it made him happy and emotional to see so many families reunited.

New Zealand had some of the toughest curbs in the world during the pandemic and only recently started to ease the increasingly unpopular measures, hoping to boost tourism and ease labour shortages now the Omicron variant is widespread domestically.

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Read the full story here.

— Reuters

Air Canada restarts YVR to Brisbane flights

Travellers from Vancouver wishing to head Down Under to Australia will now have an easier time with the return of direct flights to Brisbane.

Air Canada is resuming direct flights from Vancouver International Airport to Brisbane starting July 1.

These flights were halted in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The service, which will operate four times a week year-round, will be onboard a 298-seat Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Annually, the flights are expected to bring more than 60,000 new seats into the Australian state of Queensland.

The return of the Brisbane flights is part of an expansion of Air Canada’s flights to the South Pacific as governments begin easing travel restrictions.

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Read the full story here.

— Cheryl Chan

Setback for Shanghai’s COVID battle as Beijing ramps up mass testing

China’s commercial capital of Shanghai was dealt a blow on Monday as authorities reported 58 new COVID-19 cases outside areas under strict lockdown, while Beijing pressed on with testing millions of people on a May Day holiday few were celebrating.

Tough coronavirus curbs in Shanghai have stirred rare public anger, with millions of the city’s 25 million people stuck indoors for more than a month, some sealed inside fenced-off residential compounds and many struggling for daily necessities.

While Shanghai officials said the situation is improving, images on social media have unnerved the public at a time when hospitals and mortuaries in the city are overwhelmed.

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On Monday, authorities said they were investigating five officials after videos showed a local care home transferring an elderly person in a body bag to a mortuary. The person was later found to be still alive.

Shanghai residents breathed a sigh of relief over the weekend at news that no cases had been confirmed outside areas under lockdown for two days, but disappointment came on Monday with the report of the 58 new infections among people who are allowed to move more freely around the city.

Read the full story here.

— Reuters

New Omicron sub-lineages can dodge immunity from past infection

Two new sublineages of the Omicron coronavirus variant can dodge antibodies from earlier infection well enough to trigger a new wave, but are far less able to thrive in the blood of people vaccinated against COVID-19, South African scientists have found.

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The scientists from multiple institutions were examining Omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages — which the World Health Organization last month added to its monitoring list. They took blood samples from 39 participants previously infected by Omicron when it first showed up at the end of last year.

Fifteen were vaccinated – eight with Pfizer’s shot; seven with J&J’s — while the other 24 were not.

“The vaccinated group showed about a five-fold higher neutralization capacity … and should be better protected,” said the study, a pre-print of which was released over the weekend.

Read the full story here.

— Reuters

COVID-19 is killing fewer people, but Quebec still reporting dozens of deaths daily

Percylla Battista said she last spoke to her sister, Maggie Quart Robitaille, a week before Quart Robitaille tested positive for COVID-19.

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“She was feeling pretty good,” Battista said in a recent interview. “She didn’t think she would get COVID because she had already been vaccinated four times.”

But on April 13, Quart Robitaille died at age 82, less than two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19. She was among the 3,325 people reported to have died in the province from the novel coronavirus since the Omicron wave started in mid-December.

While vaccination and improved treatment have made COVID-19 less deadly, Quebec reported Saturday that there have been15,000 deaths attributed to the pandemic in the province — the most in Canada. Quebec’s death rate also remains the highest in the country, at 174 deaths per 100,000 people. In Ontario, there have been 86 deaths per 100,000 people. Across Canada, there have been 102.

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Read the full story here.

— The Canadian Press

Restrictions tighten in Beijing, Shanghai shows signs of life

The Chinese capital Beijing tightened COVID restrictions on Sunday as it battled an outbreak, while Shanghai let more of its 25 million residents venture out for light and air after reporting a second day of zero infections outside of quarantine areas.

The outbreak in Shanghai, which began in March, has been China’s worst since the early months of the pandemic in 2020. Hundreds of thousands have been infected and the city has forbidden residents from leaving their homes, to great public anger.

Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, personally in Shanghai to oversee the city’s counter-epidemic work, said on Sunday that while now is not the time to relax, communities with no new cases for seven days should be allowed to return to “normal social order.”

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The outbreak in China’s most populous city and the risk of a spread in Beijing are testing the government’s zero-COVID approach that has placed tremendous pressure on local economies in a year when Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term as president.

Read the full story here.

— Reuters

Six deaths a day, significant jump in hospitalizations in latest weekly data

The latest weekly data on the COVID-19 pandemic in British Columbia paints a sobering picture of a stubbornly persistent current wave of the Omicron variant.

Data released Thursday for the week of April 17 to 23 showed 42 newly reported deaths during that period, an average of six people dying from COVID-19 every day. Twenty-seven died in the last weekly reporting period before this one.

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A total of 3,147 have died from the novel coronavirus in B.C. since early 2020.

Even with those 42 victims of the virus being removed from data on hospitalizations, the number of people in hospital as of Thursday rose from 485 a week ago to 570; 57 of them are in intensive care, a jump of 19 from last week.

Read the full story here.

— Joseph Ruttle

Moderna seeks Health Canada approval for COVID-19 vaccine for kids under six

The first COVID-19 vaccine for infants and very young children is now under review by Health Canada.

Moderna Canada President Patricia Gauthier said Friday the company sent an application to the Canadian vaccine regulator late Thursday for a vaccine to protect children between six months and five years old.

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“It’s now in the hands of Health Canada,” she said at an event in Montreal where the company announced plans to build a vaccine production plant.

Health Canada authorized Moderna’s Spikevax vaccine for adults in December 2020, for teenagers in August 2021 and for children ages six to 11 in March.

There is no vaccine authorized for children younger than five. Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine can be used on children as young as five but its version for younger children was delayed because two doses didn’t produce a strong enough immune response.

—The Canadian Press


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.

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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.

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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 gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated 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.


Where can I get a COVID-19 test?

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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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