Politics

COVID-19 update for Sept. 22: Here’s what you need to know


Dr. Kieran Moore says over the next two weeks only 20,000 out of a potential 80,000 appointments have been booked.

“(We have) plenty of appointments available, we have the vaccine, we have the partnerships, we just need people to realize we all need to be protected for this winter, and maximize our level of protection at a community level,” he said in an interview Thursday.

“I know it’s great weather and everyone’s outdoors, but we soon will be going indoors and the risk of transmission will be going up.”

—The Canadian Press

Don’t blame schools for high COVID rates among B.C. youth: provincial health officer

B.C.’s provincial health officer says the findings of a study she co-authored showing children and youth have had the highest rates of COVID-19 in parts of the province should not be interpreted to suggest those infections occurred mostly in schools.

Dr. Bonnie Henry has been criticized by some parents, advocacy groups and health-care professionals who say a major jump in infections occurred during the school year among children under age 10.

They say measures like masking for all students and air filtration upgrades in schools could have been taken earlier to protect children in classrooms from a virus that was known to spread through the air.

However, Henry says some youth were becoming infected when they were not eligible for a vaccine, and illness among those under 19 was comparable with transmission of the virus in the community.

Read the full story here.

— The Canadian Press

End of COVID pandemic is ‘in sight’: WHO chief

The world has never been in a better position to end the COVID-19 pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, his most optimistic outlook yet on the years-long health crisis which has killed over six million people.

“We are not there yet. But the end is in sight,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a virtual press conference.

That was the most upbeat assessment from the UN agency since it declared an international emergency in January 2020 and started describing COVID-19 as a pandemic three months later.

The virus, which emerged in China in late 2019, has killed nearly 6.5 million people and infected 606 million, roiling global economies and overwhelming healthcare systems.

Read the full story here.

— Reuters

B.C. Supreme Court chief judge dismisses four challenges to COVID-19 health orders

B.C.’s top trial court judge has dismissed four legal challenges to the province’s COVID-19 health orders.

In one of the cases presided over by Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson of the B.C. Supreme Court, the judge rejected a constitutional challenge to B.C.’s COVID health orders filed by a group called the Canadian Society for the Advancement of Science in Public Policy.

The society argued requiring vaccinations for health-care workers was unconstitutional and also that the orders failed to provide reasonable exemptions and accommodations for people with religious objections, vaccination risks, immunity from prior injection and recent negative COVID testing.

In ruling against the group, Hinkson found that Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, had assessed available scientific evidence to determine the COVID-19 risk for gatherings in B.C., including data regarding transmission of the virus globally, nationally and in B.C.

Read the full story here.

— Keith Fraser

Study co-authored by B.C.’s top doctor says 80% of kids, youth have had COVID-19

A study co-authored by B.C.’s top doctor says at least 70 to 80 per cent of children and youth in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley have been infected with COVID-19.

The study, which lists Dr. Bonnie Henry among 13 authors, says that in contrast, 60 to 70 per cent of adults aged 20 to 59 and about 40 per cent of those aged 60 and over have been infected.

The preprint study, which has not been peer-reviewed, was published online on Sept. 9 and says a series of surveillance reports of infections were understating the actual levels of infection by 92 times.

It says the overall rate of infection rose from below 15 per cent to about 60 per cent between October last year and this August, as the highly infectious Omicron variant took hold.

The study is based on 14,000 anonymized blood samples obtained since March 2020 from a network of outpatient laboratories.

—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.Masks are also encouraged but not required on board public transit and B.C. Ferries, though they are still required in federally regulated travel space.

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.


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?

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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