COVID-19 update for Aug. 5-7: Thousands stranded in China resort city amid lockdown | Ontario at peak of seventh wave | Study shows virus tough to catch in classrooms – Vancouver Sun

Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the coronavirus situation in B.C. and around the world.
Here’s your update with everything you need to know on the COVID-19 situation in B.C. and around the world for Aug. 5-7, 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 every day this week, with developments added as they happen, so be sure to check back often.
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Here are the latest B.C. figures given on Aug. 4:

• Hospitalized cases: 410
• Intensive care: 38
• New cases: 938 over seven days ending July 30
• Total number of confirmed cases: 379,274
• Total deaths over seven days ending July 30: 28 (total 3,940)

Read the full report here | Next update: Aug. 11 at 3 p.m. (or later)

• The latest weekly report from B.C. health officials
Pandemic benefit programs targeting workers were effective, but businesses were over-subsidized
Seventh wave of COVID-19 in Ontario has peaked, chief medical officer of health says
• Quebec to begin new COVID-19 vaccination booster drive in mid-August
Vancouver Whitecaps continue playoff push amid COVID-19 outbreak
• The number of B.C. cyclists who were hospitalized after an accident jumped almost 25 per cent during the first year of COVID-19.
• U.S. CDC expected to ease COVID-19 guidelines for schools this week
• COVID-19 vaccine sales push Moderna past expectations in Q2
• Vancouver Coastal Health is now offering child-specific vaccination clinics for those under five
• Online crimes see stark increase during COVID-19 pandemic
• The Omicron variant may be more efficient at infecting children through the nose than previous versions of the coronavirus

Benefits rolled out at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic allowed vulnerable Canadians to stay healthy while maintaining an income, but business supports were excessive and show the outsized influence of business groups on public policy, economists say.

Nearly two and a half years ago, the federal government faced an unprecedented task of shutting down the economy to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19. That shutdown led to a series of pandemic relief benefits aimed at softening the blow to workers and businesses, with the two most prominent programs being the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

Recent analysis from Statistics Canada based on census data shows two-thirds of Canadian adults received pandemic benefits in 2020, with these benefits cushioning income losses and reducing inequality.

— The Canadian Press

Some 80,000 tourists are stranded in the southern Chinese beach resort of Sanya, after authorities declared it a COVID-19 hot spot and imposed a lockdown.

The restrictions came into force on Saturday morning, as authorities sought to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the city on tropical Hainan Island. There were 229 confirmed cases on Friday and an additional 129 on Saturday.

China’s ruling Communist Party sticks steadfastly to a “zero-COVID” approach that is increasingly at odds with the rest of the world. A recent outbreak in Shanghai spread so widely that authorities locked down the entire city, China’s largest, for two months, trapping millions of people and dealing a blow to the national economy.

Railway authorities banned all ticket sales in Sanya while all flights were also canceled on Saturday.

Tourists wanting to depart Sanya have to test negative for the coronavirus on five PCR tests over seven days, authorities said.

— The Associated Press

Vaccinated and masked college students had virtually no chance of catching COVID-19 in the classroom last fall, according to a sweeping study of 33,000 Boston University students that bolsters standard prevention measures.

The researchers screened the college’s health records to find nine sets of students who developed COVID at about the same time, were in class together without social distancing and had no known contact outside school, suggesting that they might have transmitted it in the classroom. However, genome analysis of coronavirus samples from the groups showed that all of them more likely were infected in other places.

— Bloomberg News 

The seventh wave of COVID-19 in Ontario has peaked, the province’s chief medical officer of health said Friday.
Dr. Kieran Moore said in an interview that key indicators are peaking or already trending downward. “I think we’ve already started on the downswing,” he said.

“It’s always easier to look back and say where we were, but from our vantage point just today, it certainly has stabilized and we’re seeing a decrease in the overall number of people hospitalized, stabilization in ICU, which are typically late indicators, and at a provincial level the wastewater is on the decrease.”

Public Health Ontario says COVID-19 case rates decreased in 22 of Ontario’s 34 health units for the week ending July 30, with per cent positivity down slightly week over week, and hospital admissions decreasing to 306 compared to 463 the previous week.

— Canadian Press

The latest data from B.C. health officials shows that several people continue to lose their battle with COVID-19 each day, a trend that has been stubbornly consistent for several weeks.

Twenty-eight more people died with COVID-19 in the province in the seven days ending July 30. There were 29 deaths in the week before that and 21 in data from two weeks ago. An average of just over three patients a day died with COVID-19 through the month of July.

Overall, 3,940 have died in B.C. since the start of the pandemic.

New cases, hospitalizations and the number of patients needing critical care all ticked up in the current data as well. There were 410 people in hospital with COVID-19 as of Thursday, up nine from a week earlier; 38 of those patients were in intensive care, a rise of three.

Some 983 new cases were reported in the week ending July 30, though limits on COVID testing mean that number doesn’t accurately reflect the prevalence of the virus in the B.C. population.

The new case data does confirm that the latest variant of the novel coronavirus is widespread in the province, with a significant number of cases in every B.C. health region.

— Joseph Ruttle

Quebec will begin offering an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable seniors and long-term care residents, the province’s public health director said Thursday as Quebec surpassed 16,000 pandemic deaths.

Dr. Luc Boileau said teams will travel to long-term care and seniors’ homes to offer a booster on site beginning Aug. 15.

At the same time, members of the general public will be able to begin booking appointments, beginning with those 80 and over, health workers and people in remote communities, he said.

Because immunity wanes over time, Boileau said it’s important for people to stay up to date on vaccinations, especially those who are more vulnerable.

“We invite all citizens who have that profile, especially those who are older, more vulnerable and with chronic illnesses, to take advantage of that vaccination,” he said. He said a new dose is recommended five months after the previous one, although those who have been infected with COVID-19 in the meantime can wait a little longer if they prefer.

— The Canadian Press

The Vancouver Whitecaps’ road to the playoffs continues to be a bumpy ride.

A COVID-19 outbreak has left the ‘Caps (7-10-6) short-handed for Friday’s crucial home matchup against the Houston Dynamo (7-12-4).

Six players have entered Major League Soccer’s health and safety protocols, including forward Cristian Dajome, midfielders Caio Alexandre and Andres Cubas, and defenders Marcus Godinho, Florian Jungwirth and Luis Martins.

The club has signed Whitecaps FC 2 striker Simon Becher and wingback Ali Ahmed to short-term MLS agreements to bolster its ranks.

Despite the shortened bench, head coach Vanni Sartini said he was confident heading into Friday’s game.

— The Canadian Press

The number of B.C. cyclists who were hospitalized after an accident jumped almost 25 per cent during the first year of COVID-19.

According to latest data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, there were 1,166 cyclists admitted to hospital with injuries between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, compared to 945 in the corresponding year before.

This marked the first full year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the year prior to the pandemic, there were 808 B.C. cyclists admitted to hospital,which was the lowest number in the past six years. There were 962 cyclists hospitalized in 2015/2016.

In the summer of 2020 — the first COVID summer — cycling activity exploded across Metro Vancouver, with the City of Vancouver reporting weekday bike traffic up 48 per cent, while weekday vehicle traffic numbers fell by 25 per cent.

Read the full story here.

— David Carrigg

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to ease its guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19, including in schools as soon as this week, CNN reported on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the plan.

Alberta Opposition Leader Rachel Notley says the United Conservative Party government, particularly former finance minister Travis Toews, must bear the responsibility and fallout for the record-setting six-figure bonus payment to the chief medical officer of health.
Notley said Wednesday she isn’t passing judgment on whether the payout to Dr. Deena Hinshaw is merited.
But she said the payout has to be set against a government that, at the same time, was trying to cut the pay of front-line health workers in collective bargaining during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is jaw dropping to me that they would then turn around and offer up a 60 per cent bonus to someone who had — by her own admission — chosen not to completely exercise her authority and (instead) hand over decision-making power to an incredibly ill-informed cabinet,” Notley told reporters in Calgary.
The CBC, gleaning information from the government’s sunshine salary list, reported Monday that Hinshaw received a bonus of almost $228,000 for COVID-19 work in 2021 — the highest such cash benefit payout to any provincial civil servant since the list went public six years ago.
— The Canadian Press
Better-than-expected COVID-19 vaccine sales pushed Moderna past Wall Street’s second-quarter forecasts.
New statistics show that police-reported extortion cases in Canada rose by nearly 300 per cent in the last decade, as the crime swelled online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These concerning increases are being facilitated by social media platforms and other electronic services providers,” said Lianna McDonald, the executive director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, in a news release.
“It should be a wake-up call.”
Crime data released by Statistics Canada Tuesday also showed an eight per cent increase in the non-consensual distribution of intimate images from 2020 to 2021. There were also increases in indecent or harassing communications — up four per cent — and uttering threats — rising three per cent.
The nature of these crimes has moved online, Statistics Canada said, and may have been exacerbated by increased internet activity during the pandemic. There were almost 15,500 cybercrime-related harassing and threatening behaviour violations in 2021 — up 21 per cent from 2019.
—The Canadian Press
A UBC study has found Canada’s restrictions on international travel drastically reduced the number of COVID-19 cases entering the country during the first waves of the pandemic, but were not enough to prevent new outbreaks.
Starting Tuesday, Aug. 2, parents of infants and children up to four years in the Vancouver Coastal Health region can bring their kids to specially equipped COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
There are over 45,000 children in the younger age group eligible for vaccination in VCH. Parents are urged to register their child or children in the provincial Get Vaccinated system. Once registered, parents will be notified when appointments are available.
— Joseph Ruttle
But recent test-tube experiments mixing the virus with nasal cells from 23 healthy children and 15 healthy adults found the antiviral defenses in kids’ noses “was markedly less pronounced in the case of Omicron,” researchers reported on Monday in PLOS Biology. They also report that Omicron reproduced itself more efficiently in childrens’ nasal-lining cells compared to both Delta and the original virus.
“These data are consistent with the increased number of pediatric infections observed during the Omicron wave,” the researchers wrote, while calling for additional studies.
Read the study here.
— Reuters
Severity of smell dysfunction after infection with the coronavirus may be a better predictor of long-term cognitive impairment than overall severity of COVID-19, according to an Argentinian study.
Researchers studied a random sample of 766 people over age 60, roughly 90 per cent of whom had been infected with the virus. Physical, cognitive and neuropsychiatric tests performed three-to-six months after infection showed some degree of memory impairment in two-thirds of the infected participants. After taking individuals’ other risk factors into account, severity of loss of smell, known as anosmia, “but not clinical status, significantly (predicted) cognitive impairment,” the researchers reported on Sunday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2022, held online and in San Diego.
“The more insight we have into what causes or at least predicts who will experience the significant long-term cognitive impact of COVID-19 infection, the better we can track it and begin to develop methods to prevent it,” study leader Gabriela Gonzalez-Aleman of Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina in Buenos Aires said in a statement.
— Reuters
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.
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.
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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