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 23-24, 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
• Japanese drug maker Shionogi says its experimental S-217622 pill shows rapid clearance of virus that causes COVID-19.
• The federal government has spent $576B in new measures since start of COVID pandemic: PBO report.
• Another 121 people in B.C. land in hospital with COVID-19.
• B.C. man experiencing 22-day lockdown as Shanghai battles latest wave.
• New statistics show England’s COVID-19 prevalence has fallen.
Here are the latest figures given on April 21 for the week of April 10 to 16:
• Hospitalized cases: 485
• Intensive care: 38
• Total deaths over seven days: 27 (total 3,077)
• New cases: 2,036 over seven days
• Total number of confirmed cases: 361,034
Read the full report here | Next update: April 28 at 1 p.m. (or later)
LATEST NEWS on COVID-19 in B.C.
Mixed reactions to Ontario’s mask mandate extension
The Ontario government’s decision to extend its remaining mask mandate in high-risk settings like hospitals, long-term care homes, shelters and public transit until at least June 11 is being met with mixed reactions.
Andrew Williams, president and CEO of Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance, says his organization “fully” supports the move.
He says the organization decided to continue its mask mandate at the four hospitals it oversees “indefinitely” and that the government’s extension “really helped our messaging.”
Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, says her association was calling for the province’s mask mandate to be kept in all indoor settings to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases.
But with mask mandates already lifted in most indoor spaces like schools and retail stores, she says she would at least like to see mask requirements kept indefinitely in high-risk settings until public health indicators like COVID-19 hospitalizations “significantly” improve.
Read the full story here.
Related: Ontario reports 1,362 in hospital with COVID
— The Canadian Press
Japan’s Shionogi says COVID-19 pill shows rapid clearance of virus
An experimental treatment from Shionogi & Co Ltd has shown rapid clearance of the virus that causes COVID-19, according to new data, the Japanese drug maker said on Sunday.
The pill, S-217622, “demonstrated rapid clearance of the infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Shionogi said in a statement, citing Phase-2b results from the Phase II/III clinical trial of the drug.
The company has global aspirations for the antiviral pill, which is now being evaluated by Japanese regulators.
The findings released on Sunday also showed “there was no significant difference in total score of 12 COVID-19 symptoms between treatment arms” although the drug showed improvement in a composite score of five “respiratory and feverish” symptoms, Shionogi said.
Read the full story here.
Since March 2020, the federal government has spent or planned to spend $576 billion in new measures — but more than a third, $204.5 billion, of this spending has nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic according to an analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO).
In its most recent report released Friday, the PBO took a detailed look at the federal budget and came to the conclusion that Finance officials are painting a rather rosy picture of Canada’s fiscal outlook. It also casts doubt on the government’s capacity to generate additional revenue or reduce government spending to pay for promises going forward.
The report is meant to “assist parliamentarians in their budgetary deliberations”, so expect some of these arguments to come up as the budget makes its way through Parliament.
In the budget presented this year, the PBO calculated $56.6 billion that can be classified as new spending that could be “partially offset” by $25.4 billion in taxes and spending reduction plans.
— Catherine Lévesque
“We are not adequately humbled by what we don’t know about it,” Winnipeg internal medicine doctor Jillian Horton recently tweeted about COVID-19. First BA.1, then BA.2, now, a new Omicron offshoot, BA.2.12.1, is making its presence known in the U.S. where it’s driving a spike in cases in New York State. How do COVID-19 variants emerge, why do some take hold while others disappear and what could be coming next? Here’s some of what scientists do — and don’t — know.
Another 121 people land in hospital with COVID-19
The latest COVID-19 case numbers in B.C. show more than 100 people have landed in hospital with COVID-19 over the previous week.
In the latest figures shared April 21, recapping the week of April 10 to 16, there were 485 people in hospital with COVID-19, up more than 100 from 364 the previous week. That figure includes both those in critical care and those who tested positive after attending hospital for other reasons.
There were also 27 deaths during that period, bringing B.C.’s death toll up to 3,077, while there were 2,036 new cases of COVID-19 recorded.
– Staff Reporter
B.C. man experiencing 22-day lockdown as Shanghai battles latest wave
A B.C. native living in Shanghai says swapping food scraps with neighbours and conversing through windows has become part of his routine after a city-wide lockdown to curb COVID transmission stretched from a few days to three weeks.
Victoria’s Stewart Jensen, who relocated to Shanghai’s Changning District two years ago to set up a manufacturing plant for his electric cargo-bicycle company, Baere Bikes, has been confined to his apartment for the past 21 days.
“All it takes is one case in your apartment block and your whole compound is in lockdown for another 14,” he told Postmedia in an email on Thursday.
China’s ruling party has enforced a “zero-COVID” strategy, shutting down entire cities this April, forcing residents to self-isolate in every case, including in Shanghai, which has 25 million residents and 95 per cent of the country’s cases.
On Wednesday, city authorities reported eight people with COVID-19 had died and there were 25,411 new coronavirus cases, the majority being asymptomatic.
Read the full story here.
— Sarah Grochowski
England’s COVID-19 prevalence fell to 1 in 17 people in the week ending April 16, Britain’s Office for National Statistics said on Friday, compared with 1 in 14 recorded in the previous week.
The ONS also said on Friday it estimated that 3.2 million people in England had COVID-19 in the week to April 16.
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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