COVID-19 update for July 8-10: 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 update with everything you need to know on the COVID-19 situation in B.C. and around the world for July 8-10, 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 every day this week, 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.

Here are the latest B.C. figures given on July 7 for June 26 – June 2:

• Hospitalized cases: 369
• Intensive care: 36
• New cases: 765 over seven days
• Total number of confirmed cases: 375,357
• Total deaths over seven days: 24 (total 3,788)

Read the full report here | Next update: July 14 at 1 p.m. (or later)

Headlines at a glance

• COVID hospitalizations in B.C. increased by 35 per cent this week.
• Ontario is considering expanding COVID-19 booster shots to all adults amid a seventh wave.
• Quebec health minister says he does not plan to reintroduce COVID-19 restrictions even as Quebec enters seventh COVID-19 wave.
• Half of the Canadian population were infected with Omicron in only five months starting in December 2021, according to a new report.
• Epidemiologist warns fast-moving Omicron variant could disrupt summer plans.
• Ontario is likely in another wave of COVID-19 driven by the highly infectious BA.5 Omicron subvariant of the virus, Ontario’s expert pandemic advisers say. Meanwhile, the number of people with COVID-19 hospitalized in Quebec is rising.
• Norwegian Cruise Line is dropping a requirement that passengers test negative for COVID-19 before sailing unless it is required by local rules.
• Some people are visiting the U.S. for a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Hospitalizations rise as third Omicron wave takes hold

The number of people in B.C. hospitals with COVID-19 jumped by 35 per cent in the last week as health experts warn of another Omicron wave.

On Thursday, 369 people were in hospital with the virus, up from last week’s 273. Out of the 369, 36 are in critical care.

The most recent data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, which releases its weekly update on the state of COVID-19 in the province every Thursday, shows 765 cases were reported from June 26 to July 2, up from 620 the week before.

During the same week, 24 people died within 30 days of a positive COVID-19 test. The deaths bring the total death toll in B.C. from the virus to 3,788.

 — Cheryl Chan

Dix says B.C. is in a new wave because of Omicron variants as hospitalizations rise

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As the number of infections and hospitalizations continue to rise, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday that B.C. is in the third Omicron wave of the COVID pandemic.

Dix wasn’t available for comment about the latest surge in infections in B.C. that is mirroring what is happening in Central Canada and other countries, but he confirmed in a CBC interview the province is in a new wave.

Later in the day, the province released its weekly COVID numbers showing a 35 per cent jump over last week in the number of people in B.C. hospitals with COVID-19, to 369 from 273. About 10 per cent were in critical care. It is the first time since early May that hospitalizations had increased.

In the week ending July 2, 24 people died within 30 days of a positive COVID-19 test.

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And there were 765 reported COVID cases, up from 620 the week before. The number of infections do not reflect the true number of cases because PCR testing is limited in B.C. and it doesn’t include results of at-home tests.

Read the full story here.

—Susan Lazaruk

Ontario considering expanding COVID-19 booster shots to all adults amid seventh wave

Ontario is considering expanding eligibility for fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccines to people under 60 years of age and that decision is expected to come early next week, the province’s top doctor said Thursday.

Ontario has been under pressure to expand eligibility for fourth doses of a COVID-19 vaccine beyond people aged 60 and older, immunocompromised people and Indigenous populations, as Quebec has done. That province has opened up eligibility to all adults.

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Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said in an interview with The Canadian Press that he anticipates news on that will come next week on “both whether and how” to expand the rollout.

“Yes, the government’s considering opening up eligibility further,” he said. “If you’re 59 and under you may be eligible in the future for a second booster dose.”

But he said he is most concerned about the number of people who have not had a third dose yet.

—The Canadian Press

Medicines agency says EU is seeing ‘new wave’ of COVID-19

A senior official at the European Union medicines agency said Thursday that many nations in the bloc are seeing a new wave of COVID-19, driven by highly-transmissible mutations of the omicron variant.

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The European Medicines Agency’s Marco Cavaleri told an online briefing that the BA.4 and BA.5 mutations are expected to become dominant across the continent, “likely replacing all other variants by the end of July.”

He said that while there is no evidence the variants make people more sick than earlier strains of the virus, “the increase in transmission among older age groups is starting to translate into severe disease.”

In April, the EMA advised people aged 80 and above to get a second vaccine booster. Cavaleri said that second booster doses are now being advised for people in the EU aged from 60-79 years and “medically vulnerable persons of any age.”

—The Associated Press

Montreal businesses, customers have no plans to return to COVID-19 restrictions

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It’s only been a few weeks since Marie Geller-Oles reopened indoor seating in her Pointe-Claire Village coffee shop, and despite a new uptick in the virus, she has no plans to close again.

Geller-Oles is a part-owner of Victor Rose Café on Cartier Ave. As the province announced Thursday it has officially entered a seventh wave of the virus, Geller-Oles said she has no plans to bring back any of the health measures her business adopted before mask mandates were lifted last spring.

“We’ll follow the government guidelines, but if it’s not a regulation, we’ll keep it as an option for people and staff,” Geller-Oles said Thursday morning. However, she believes there won’t like be new guidelines imposed by the province in this wave of the virus.

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“I think at this point, we all have to make it part of our life,” she said, adding that any new restrictions would likely have a punishing effect on businesses.

In a news conference Thursday morning, Health Minister Christian Dubé said he had no intention of reintroducing mask mandates or other restrictions for businesses or even for public transit. However, he urged people to stay up to date with their vaccinations, and those who test positive for the virus to isolate for a period of 10 days.

— Montreal Gazette

Half of Canadians were infected with Omicron in only five months: report

Half of the Canadian population — more than 17 million people — were infected with Omicron in only five months starting in December 2021, a report by the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) says.

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The results are based on population seropositivity — “the proportion of people with antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in their blood,” the report explained — using data from 21 studies that CITF reviewed. The report showed that prior to Omicron, just seven per cent of Canadians had antibodies from being infected by the virus. The proportion rose by 45 per cent from December 2021 to May 2022.

That’s an average of around 100,000 infections per day, said CITF Executive Director Dr. Tim Evans in a statement.

“Omicron has been a tsunami,” he said, adding that new sublineages of the virus have been spreading since then, pushing the percentage of Canadians who have been infected “well above” 50 per cent.

Read the full story here.

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— Postmedia News

Omicron variant has set the stage for summer of disruption: Epidemiologist

Ottawa epidemiologist Dr. Doug Manuel is warning people to prepare for disruptions this summer as a fast-moving BA.5 Omicron wave takes hold.

“We are in a wave and it has the potential to disrupt your summer plans.”

He advised people to increase their levels of protection and to protect those who are vulnerable by wearing masks, distancing, avoiding places where that is not possible and making sure their vaccines are up to date.

Even so, Manuel, a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and a member of Ontario’s Science Advisory Table, said peoples’ plans are likely to be disrupted because of the rapid spread of the subvariant that has roared through Europe and other parts of the world in recent weeks. The unusual summer COVID-19 wave also has the potential to be disruptive to society, he said.

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Read the full story here.

— Ottawa Citizen

Ontario likely in new COVID wave driven by BA.5 subvariant, science table says

Ontario is likely in another wave of COVID-19 driven by the highly infectious BA.5 Omicron subvariant of the virus, Ontario’s expert pandemic advisers say.

The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table group’s findings shared on Twitter Wednesday note that wastewater signals, test positivity and hospitalizations from the virus are rising, while regions across the province are reporting exponential growth in infections.

Dr. Fahad Razak, scientific director of the group, said it’s likely that the wave will peak sometime in the summer. Evidence doesn’t suggest that BA.5 variant causes more severe illness, but Razak said the variant’s highly infectious nature could still do damage through the sheer number of people who catch it.

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“Based on everything we’re seeing, the BA.5 wave, we don’t expect it to be that large,” he said. “But there are important steps that can be taken to protect ourselves and to minimize this effect as much as possible.”

Read the full story here.

— The Canadian Press

Hospitalizations continue to rise as Quebec reports 13 more COVID deaths

Quebec’s health ministry announced Wednesday that 1,497 patients in the province are hospitalized with COVID-19, which is the highest tally since the end of May.

The figure represents an increase of 56 patients since yesterday.

Of the hospitalized patients, 40 are in intensive care — an increase of one.

Additionally, the province reported that 13 more deaths had been attributed to the virus, bringing the death toll to 15,630.

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The seven day rolling average of deaths in Quebec is eight.

Read the full story here.

— Montreal Gazette

Norwegian Cruise Line to drop requirement for COVID-19 test

Norwegian Cruise Line is dropping a requirement that passengers test negative for COVID-19 before sailing unless it is required by local rules.

The company said Wednesday that it will drop the testing requirement Aug. 1 except on ships sailing from places with local testing rules, including in the United States, Canada, Bermuda and Greece.

Read the full story here.

— The Associated Press

U.S. allows pharmacists to prescribe Pfizer’s COVID pill

Pharmacists can prescribe the leading COVID-19 pill directly to patients under a new U.S. policy announced Wednesday that’s intended to expand use of Pfizer’s drug Paxlovid.

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The Food and Drug Administration said pharmacists can begin screening patients to see if they are eligible for Paxlovid and then prescribe the medication, which has been shown to curb the worst effects of COVID-19. Previously only physicians could prescribe the antiviral drug.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising again, though they remain near their lowest levels since the coronavirus outbreak began in 2020.

Biden administration officials have expressed frustration that several hundred Americans continue to die of COVID-19 daily, despite the availability of vaccines and treatments.

— The Associated Press

Some head to the U.S. for fourth dose unavailable to them in B.C.

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B.C. plans to expand its rollout of COVID booster shots to those younger than 70 “in the fall,” but some British Columbians who don’t want to wait have travelled to Washington state to get a second booster unavailable to them at home.

“Our last vaccination clinic, probably the majority of the people were Canadian, about 75 per cent were Canadian,” firefighter Bill Skinner of the Point Roberts fire department said on Tuesday.

He said most of the fewer than 100 attendees at the clinic two weeks ago were middle-aged or older. In Washington, the second booster is available to anyone 50 or older, while in B.C. you are eligible if you’re 70 or older or Indigenous and 55 and older or live in a long-term-care home.

“That’s maybe why so many of them were Canadian,” he said. “They came from Fraser Health (region).” He said there is another clinic planned for September.

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Read the full story here.

— Susan Lazaruk 

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.

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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.

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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