Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the COVID-19 situation in B.C. and around the world for April 28, 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.
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
• Weekly data shows 42 more deaths April 17-23, rise in hospitalizations and ICU admissions
• Second wave of Omicron has not peaked in B.C.
• Quebec health institute forecasts decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations
• Health Canada is actively tracking the Omicron sub-variant XE in the country, one of several hybrid variants that have emerged recently
• An EU study found up to 80 per cent of population had COVID, while another study says more than half of Americans have been infected
• Africa seeing uptick in COVID cases driven by S.Africa, WHO says
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
LATEST NEWS on COVID-19 in B.C.
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.
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
Second wave of Omicron has not peaked in B.C.
The B.C. COVID-19 Modelling Group reported on Wednesday that the second Omicron wave in B.C. does not appear to have peaked.
This is based on reported cases, cases among those aged 70 and over, hospital data and wastewater data.
The group says the more infectious BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron has become more frequent and now represents over 80 per cent of B.C. cases.
Based on data from other provinces that are ahead of B.C. in this wave, the latest wave here will not drive an increase in hospitalizations, the group said. The expected end of the wave will occur due to increased herd immunity.
The B.C. Ministry of Health is no longer reporting timely COVID-19 data. It now issues a statement once a week, and on the date it is released, it is already a week old.
For example, the data last released was April 28, and that was for the time period April 17 to 23.
Quebec health institute forecasts decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations
The number of hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 in Quebec is expected to decline over the next two weeks, a Quebec government health-care research institute said Wednesday.
The Institut national d’excellence en sante et en services sociaux is forecasting that the number of people with the disease hospitalized outside of intensive care will decline to 1,912 over the next two weeks, while the number of patients in intensive care will drop to 70.
The provincial Health Department reported 2,372 patients in hospital with the disease Wednesday, a decline of 37 from the day before. That included 92 people in intensive care, an increase of two.
The institute said in a news release it expects the number of new patients to decline to around 150 a day. On Wednesday, health officials said 213 people had been admitted to hospital in the previous 24 hours and 250 were discharged.
—The Canadian Press
Africa seeing uptick in COVID cases driven by S.Africa, WHO says
Africa is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 infections, largely driven by a doubling in cases reported in South Africa, the World Health Organization said on Thursday, urging people across the continent to continue to get vaccinated.
Africa had been experiencing a lull in COVID cases, with the WHO earlier this month pointing to the longest-running decline in weekly infections on the continent since the start of the pandemic.
But last week cases started to pick up in South Africa — the country that has recorded the most infections and deaths in Africa to date — and health authorities there are monitoring for signs of a fifth infection wave.
“This week new COVID-19 cases and deaths on the continent increased for the first time after a decline of more than two months for cases and one month for deaths,” Benido Impouma, director for communicable and non-communicable diseases at the WHO’s Africa office, told an online news conference.
What you need to know about Omicron subvariants
Health Canada is actively tracking the Omicron subvariant XE in the country, one of several hybrid variants that have emerged recently.
These types of variants are recombinant, meaning they contain genetic material for two or more different variants or subvariants. Since late January, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has become aware of 32 detections of Omicron recombinants in total, said a PHAC spokesperson. They are working to confirm exact matches to published recombinant sequences.
The XE variant, known as “stealth Omicron,” is a recombination of Omicron BA. 1 and the highly-transmissible Omicron BA. 2, which is currently driving Canada’s sixth wave. According to an Apr. 8 technical briefing issued by the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA), XE also has three mutations that are not present in BA. 1 or BA.2.
The first case of XE was confirmed on Jan. 19, 2022, in the U.K., according to the technical briefing. As of Apr. 5, there have been 1,179 XE cases confirmed in the U.K. It has since been reported to have been found in other countries, including Canada, India, Japan, Thailand, and Israel.
Read the full story here.
— National Post
EU estimates up to 80 per cent of population has had COVID
The European Commission said that between 60 per cent and 80 per cent of the EU population was estimated to have been infected with COVID-19, as the bloc enters a post-emergency phase in which mass reporting of cases was no longer necessary.
In preparing for this less acute phase, European Union governments should ramp up COVID-19 immunizations of children, the bloc’s executive body said, signalling it was considering plans to develop antivirals.
“It is estimated that between 60 per cent to 80 per cent of the EU population has by now had COVID,” EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides told a news conference.
The EU public health agency said reported cases had covered about 30% of the European population so far, but if unreported infections were added, cases could be as high as 350 million, about 77 per cent of the European population.
With a recent drop in infections and deaths linked to COVID-19, the EU is now shifting away from mass testing and reporting of cases, Kyriakides said, confirming what Reuters reported on Tuesday.
More than half of Americans have had COVID infections: Antibody study
Following the record surge in COVID-19 cases during the Omicron-driven wave, some 58% of the U.S. population overall and more than 75 per cent of younger children have been infected with the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to a U.S. nationwide blood survey released on Tuesday.
The study of blood samples sent to laboratories between December and February — when Omicron cases were raging — showed children, many of whom remain unvaccinated, had the highest rates of infection during that surge, while people 65 and older — a heavily vaccinated population — had the lowest.
Scientists looked for specific antibodies produced in response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that are only present after an infection and are not generated by COVID-19 vaccines.
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.
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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