COVID-19 update for May 10: 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 10, 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

• Passengers are still at risk of coronavirus infection while travelling on airplanes and also in airports, researchers warned.
• Quebec and Ontario are both reporting a drop in the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19.
• Experts say Canada needs to turn its COVID-19 aid attention to expanding vaccine production everywhere or the virus will continue to run wild, mutate and bring new waves of disease.
• Vaccine makers are shifting gears and focusing on a more competitive market for effective booster shots after pushing out as much COVID vaccine as possible for the past 18 months.

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Researchers warn of air travel transmission risk

Passengers are still at risk of coronavirus infection while travelling on airplanes and also in airports, researchers warned.

Two passengers taking a 10-hour flight from Dubai to Australia in July 2020 infected 15 other people, despite masking requirements for travellers, functioning air purifiers, and use of masks, eye goggles, gloves and protective gowns by the flight crew, according to a report in the Journal of Travel Medicine.

Being seated within two rows of a primary case increased the risk of infection more than seven-fold, and spending more than an hour in the arrival airport increased it nearly five-fold, the study found. Seven of those who caught the virus were seated within 2 rows of the “index cases” in the economy section, but the others were seated far away, including some who were seated in business class.

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At the time, all passengers entering Australia were required to submit to hotel quarantine and to provide blood samples for COVID-19 tests. Virus particles from the two originally infected travellers and the 15 newly-infected passengers had indistinguishable genomic sequences, according to the report.

“Conscientious mask wearing during travel reduced the risk of acquiring infection,” particularly for passengers seated nearby, the researchers said. “With the emergence of more transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants … it is crucial to understand and mitigate potential risk exposures associated with all stages of air travel.”

— Reuters

Quebec reports drop in COVID-19-related deaths as hospitalizations decline further

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Quebec is reporting a 68-person drop in the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19.

According to numbers published today on the province’s open data website, there are now 1,926 people in hospital, compared to 1,994 on Saturday.

There are 66 people in intensive care, which is an increase of two.

The numbers show two additional deaths associated with the virus were reported in the province over the previous 24 hours.

Quebec has now recorded 15,139 deaths due to COVID-19, after passing the 15,000 mark on April 30.

The data also shows 822 new cases were detected with PCR testing, which is reserved for certain higher-risk groups.

—The Canadian Press

Texas doctor calls U.S. COVID deaths nearing 1 million ‘mindblowing’

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In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, pulmonologist Joseph Varon offered an opinion that made headlines around the world and went viral on social media. He was fighting two wars, he said: one against COVID and one against stupidity.

As the United States nears the grim milestone of 1 million coronavirus-linked deaths, Varon, chief of critical care and COVID-19 at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas said only one of those battles has been won.

“I think that I have won the fight against the coronavirus. I think I’ve lost the fight against human stupidity,” Varon told Reuters.

“The reason why we have lost a million people in this country is because of that fight against human stupidity. I can tell you that the number of deaths that we will have would have been much more smaller if people just listen and do the right thing, if they have a little bit of common sense,” he said.

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COVID-19 infections are rising again in the United States, and around 66% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, according to federal data. Most U.S. states and localities have eased mask and vaccination requirements.

During the coming days, various trackers of the COVID-19 pandemic will reach 1 million U.S. deaths. As of Monday night, Reuters had tallied 999,118 deaths.

“It’s mind blowing,” Varon said. “I can’t believe that we have lost a million people.”


Ontario reports 10 new COVID-19 deaths and a drop in hospitalizations

Ontario is reporting 10 more deaths linked to COVID-19 today and another drop in the number of people in hospital with the virus.

The Ministry of Health says one of the 10 deaths is from an earlier date and is part of a data cleanup.

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The province says there are 1,167 people hospitalized with the virus, down 396 from 1,563 on Saturday, though not all facilities report data on weekends.

The number of people in intensive care increased slightly to 207 from 204 the previous day.

Health officials are also reporting 1,938 new infections detected by PCR testing, which is limited to certain groups.

The scientific director of Ontario’s panel of COVID-19 advisers has said multiplying the daily case count by 20 would give a more accurate picture.

—The Canadian Press

Waive patents for COVID-19 vaccines, treatment to end pandemic, committee told

Experts say Canada needs to turn its COVID-19 aid attention to expanding vaccine production everywhere or the virus will continue to run wild, mutate and bring new waves of disease.

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Dr. Madhukar Pai, a Canada Research Chair in epidemiology and global health at McGill University, told the House of Commons foreign affairs committee today he doesn’t think rich countries like Canada have learned a thing from the first two years of the pandemic.

The more the virus spreads the more chances it has to mutate, leading to variants like Omicron that are partially escaping vaccine protection.

He predicts that when Omicron-specific vaccines are finally available the cycle will repeat itself, with rich countries snapping up all the initial supplies while citizens of lower-income countries once again will have to wait.

Pai is one of several witnesses telling MPs that Canada has to start actively supporting a proposal to waive patent protection for COVID-19 vaccines and help transfer the technology so they can be made in more countries.

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Canada’s vaccine equity strategy has largely rested on donating cash to the COVAX vaccine-sharing alliance, along with excess doses from its own supply, and has stayed neutral on a push to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization.

— The Canadian Press

Old cancer diagnosis not linked with worse COVID-19 outcomes

Patients diagnosed with cancer more than a year before contracting COVID-19 and those not receiving active treatment may be no more vulnerable to worse COVID outcomes than those without cancer, according to a new study.

“We found that recent cancer diagnoses were associated with a 17 per cent increased risk for death and 10 per cent increased risk for hospitalization,” said Youngran Kim of UT Health Houston in a statement. “However, a history of cancer more than one year before COVID-19 diagnosis was not significantly associated with increased mortality or hospitalization.”

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Using electronic health records, Kim’s team studied 271,639 U.S. adults diagnosed with COVID-19 between June and December 2020, including more than 10,000 who had been diagnosed with cancer in the past year and roughly 8,000 whose cancer diagnosis had been made more than a year earlier.

As reported in PLOS One, recent cancer diagnoses were associated with higher risks for worse COVID-19 outcomes particularly among people with metastatic disease or cancers of the blood, liver or lungs. Higher risk for death was also linked to chemotherapy or radiation treatments within three months before SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The study found other disparities among recently-diagnosed cancer patients. In particular, those who were older, Black, received Medicare, and/or lived in the Southern United States were significantly more likely to die after SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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— Reuters

COVID vaccine makers shift focus to boosters

COVID-19 vaccine makers are shifting gears and planning for a smaller, more competitive booster shot market after delivering as many doses as fast as they could over the last 18 months.

Executives at the biggest COVID vaccine makers including Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc said they believe most people who wanted to get vaccinated against COVID have already done so – more than 5 billion people worldwide.

In the coming year, most COVID vaccinations will be booster shots, or first inoculations for children, which are still gaining regulatory approvals around the world, they said.

Read the full story here.

— Reuters

What are B.C.’s current public health measures?

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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.

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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.

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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