COVID-19 update for Sept. 19: 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 update with everything you need to know on the COVID-19 situation in B.C. and around the world for Sept. 19, 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 every day this week, with developments added as they happen, so be sure to check back often.

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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 weekly B.C. figures given on Sept. 15 for the week of Sept. 4-10:

• Hospitalized cases: 314
• Intensive care: 23
• New cases: 574 over seven days ending Sept. 10
• Total number of confirmed cases: 383,628
• Total deaths over seven days ending Sept. 10: 16 (total 4,216)

Read the full report here | Next update: Sept. 22

Headlines at a glance

• Federal tribunal reverses EI denial for worker fired for not taking COVID vaccine
• The latest COVID-19 numbers from the BC CDC show the number of people admitted to hospital with the illness is declining.
• Ontario’s top doctor says there is ample supply of Omicron-targeted COVID-19 vaccines
• Dr. Bonnie Henry says the findings of a study she co-authored showing high COVID-19 rates among children and youth should not be interpreted to suggest those infections occurred mostly in schools.
• The director-general of the World Health Organization said the end of the pandemic “is in sight” but “we are not there yet.”
• B.C.’s top trial court judge has dismissed four legal challenges to the province’s COVID-19 health orders.
• A study co-authored by B.C.’s top doctor says 80 per cent of kids, youth have had COVID-19.
• A new study has found that the pandemic provided Canadians the opportunity to rethink their financial goals, with many moving, switching careers and planning to travel.

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H.K. may end hotel quarantine and pre-arrival tests, media say

Hong Kong may slash its rules on handling travelers from abroad, ending the pre-flight lab testing and hotel quarantine requirements that made coming to the once dynamic Asian financial hub fraught, local media outlets reported.

An announcement spelling the end to hotel quarantines, which was cut to three days from seven just weeks ago, could come as soon as this week, Oriental Daily reported. New arrivals may be asked to do rapid antigen tests rather than bring a copy of a negative PCR lab result conducted within the previous 48 hours, removing another hurdle that made travel inconvenient, Sing Tao Daily said, citing unidentified people.

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The implementation date for removing the hotel quarantine will affect existing operations for the airline and hotel industries and hasn’t yet been decided, according to Oriental Daily. Travelers will instead be required to undergo self-monitoring for seven days, the newspaper said, citing unidentified people.

The changes may come before a raft of major international events designed to trumpet Hong Kong’s revival are scheduled to take place starting in late October. Removal of the travel curbs that isolated the city for the past two-and-a-half years, and kept Covid-19 largely at bay until a sweeping outbreak this spring, were considered a prerequisite for many of the visitors Hong Kong was hoping to welcome.

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The city, along with mainland China, has some of the strictest Covid measures in the world even as most countries drop restrictions and open borders. With new arrivals now forced to spend three days in a designated hotel followed by four days of restrictions that forbid even eating in restaurants, questions have been raised about whether visitors will come to the planned financial and banking summits and the iconic Rugby Sevens tournament later this year.

Hong Kong has followed China’s steadfast pursuit of a Covid Zero strategy that aims to eliminate the virus rather than live with it.

— Bloomberg

Federal tribunal reverses EI denial for worker fired for not taking COVID vaccine

Members of a federal tribunal ruled in favour of a Toronto-area delivery driver denied Employment Insurance (EI) benefits after losing his job for refusing his employer’s COVID-19 vaccine policy.

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Last summer, Timothy Conlon was dismissed from his job after turning down a request by his employer to get the COVID shot — a decision Conlon said was due to concerns over his existing blood pressure and reports of blood clots in some patients, read a press release from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) who represented Conlon and others who found themselves in similar situations.

Upon losing his job, Conlon applied for EI but was denied, as the Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC) ruled he was dismissed due to misconduct.

“The Claimant disagrees because he was dismissed from his job two days after he was told about the policy,” wrote tribunal member Solange Losier in her decision released Friday.

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Read the full story here.

—Bryan Passifiume, National Post

COVID-19 cases and deaths down in Ontario from week before

Public Health Ontario says COVID-19 cases and deaths are down in the most recent week of data available, but outbreaks in nursing homes are on the rise.

The agency says there were 6,968 cases of COVID-19 recorded during the week of Sept. 4 to 10, compared to 8,175 the previous week.

There were 54 deaths in the latest week of data, and 70 deaths the week before.

The agency says there were 47 long-term care homes in outbreak compared to 30 the week prior.

Public Health Ontario says there was a notable increase in hospitalizations for infants under one year old, from 17 children that week compared to eight the week prior.

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—The Canadian Press

B.C. reports 314 people in hospital, 16 deaths over seven days

The latest COVID-19 numbers from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control show the number of people admitted to hospital with the illness is declining.

The weekly report says 142 people were hospitalized during the week of Sept. 4 to 10, down from 180 admissions during the previous week.

The centre’s COVID-19 dashboard shows a total of 314 patients hospitalized with the illness on Thursday, with 23 in critical care.

The weekly report from the centre for disease control also shows decreasing deaths, with 16 last week, 36 the week before and 44 during the week of Aug. 21

In April, provincial authorities began reporting COVID-19 deaths by including anyone who died from any cause within 30 days of a positive test result for the disease.

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The centre says it will evaluate the cause of each person’s death retroactively to better understand “true COVID-19 mortality.”

Read the full story here.

— The Canadian Press

Ontario’s top doctor says there is ample supply of Omicron-targeted COVID-19 vaccines

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health says there is ample supply of the Omicron-targeted COVID-19 vaccine, even for people who won’t be eligible for that shot until later this month.

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.

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“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 province had hit a low of 5,000 people a day getting shots, and now with renewed interest in the vaccines with the introduction of the bivalent shot, that’s up to 15,000, Moore said.

About 22,000 bivalent vaccines have been administered since they became available Monday, ministry officials said.

—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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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

—The Canadian Press

Canadians rethinking their financial goals post-pandemic: Poll

A new study has found that the pandemic provided Canadians the opportunity to rethink their financial goals, with many moving, switching careers and planning to travel.

The study, conducted by Maru Public Opinion on behalf of CIBC in early August, found that 67 per cent of Canadians are re-evaluating their priorities as COVID-19 restrictions come to an end.

The poll asked about 1,500 randomly selected Canadian adults about their financial planning habits now and over the last two years.

Those surveyed reported having made significant life decisions during the pandemic, such as 17 per cent changing jobs and 12 per cent moving to a new home.

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Looking ahead, more than one-third of Canadians say they are planning to travel within the next 12 months and 13 per cent say they are planning for a large purchase.

— 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.

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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 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.

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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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