Canada

COVID-19 update for Sept. 28: Medical professionals reiterate that virus is still a threat | Employers stretched to recruit workers in B.C.’s pandemic recovery economy | Feds lift border vaccine mandates, mandatory masks on planes and trains

“About the future, China needs very rational research and calculations,” said Hu, former editor-in-chief of nationalist state tabloid Global Times. “Experts must speak out, and the country should organize comprehensive studies and make them transparent to the public: what are the pros and cons for our common people, and what are the overall pros and cons for the country?”

All adults in Ontario can now book an appointment to receive an Omicron-targeted COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday.

The province made the bivalent vaccine available to its most vulnerable populations earlier this month, but said appointments to receive the new shot would be open to all residents 18 or over as of Sept. 26.Health Minister Sylvia Jones says getting a booster dose is especially important with the start of the fall and winter respiratory illness season.— The Canadian Press

HIV spike among B.C. drug users associated with COVID-19 lockdown, research says

A new study says reduced access to HIV services during early COVID-19 lockdowns in British Columbia was associated with a “sharp increase” in HIV transmission among some drug users.

The study by University of British Columbia researchers says that while reduced social interaction during the March-May 2020 lockdown worked to reduce HIV transmission, that may not have “outweighed” the increase caused by reduced access to services.

The study, published in Lancet Regional Health, found that fewer people started HIV antiretroviral therapy or undertook viral load testing under lockdown, while visits to overdose prevention services and safe consumption sites also decreased.

The overall number of new HIV diagnoses in B.C. continues a decades-long decline.

But Dr. Jeffrey Joy, lead author of the report published on Friday, said he found a “surprising” spike in transmission among some drug users during lockdown.

— The Canadian Press

Fight to end virus pandemic takes place on UN’s sidelines

In four days of fiery speeches over war, climate change and the threat of nuclear weapons, one issue felt like an afterthought during this year’s UN General Assembly: the coronavirus pandemic.

Masks were often pulled below chins — or not worn at all — and any mention of COVID-19 by world leaders typically came at the tail-end of a long list of grievances.

But on the sidelines of the annual meeting, the pandemic was still very much part of the conversation.

On Thursday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gathered with World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell and others to discuss equitable access to COVID vaccines, tests and treatments.

— The Associated Press

22 deaths, 305 in hospital: Weekly data from BCCDC

British Columbia saw 22 more people who recently tested positive for COVID-19 die over the week of Sept. 11-17 in preliminary data released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control on Thursday.

The number of people in hospital with COVID dipped slightly to 305 as of Thursday, with 22 of those in intensive care.

Including updated mortality data from several recent weeks, a total of 4,253 people have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Another 637 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed this week, but limited testing means this understates the prevalence of the virus in the population.

For a primer on how to interpret data in the BCCDC weekly reports, click here.

— Joseph Ruttle


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.

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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