COVID-19 update for Sept. 15: Here’s what you need to know

COVID-19 update for Sept. 15: 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 Sept. 15, 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.

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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 weekly B.C. figures given on Sept. 15 for the week of Sept. 4-10:

• Hospitalized cases: 314
• Intensive care: 23
• New cases: 574 over seven days ending Sept. 10
• Total number of confirmed cases: 383,628
• Total deaths over seven days ending Sept. 10: 16 (total 4,216)

Read the full report here | Next update: Sept. 22

Headlines at a glance

• The latest COVID-19 numbers from the BC CDC show the number of people admitted to hospital with the illness is declining.
• Dr. Bonnie Henry says the findings of a study she co-authored showing high COVID-19 rates among children and youth should not be interpreted to suggest those infections occurred mostly in schools.
• The director-general of the World Health Organization said the end of the pandemic “is in sight” but “we are not there yet.”
• B.C.’s top trial court judge has dismissed four legal challenges to the province’s COVID-19 health orders.
• A study co-authored by B.C.’s top doctor says 80 per cent of kids, youth have had COVID-19.
• New research suggests at least 17 million people in the European Union may have experienced long COVID-19 symptoms during the first two years of the pandemic.
• A new study has found that the pandemic provided Canadians the opportunity to rethink their financial goals, with many moving, switching careers and planning to travel.
• An Ontario court has ruled college’s vaccine mandate is legal.
• Nunavut rolling out new COVID-19 vaccine to older residents
 New Zealand has scrapped mask wearing rules and vaccine mandate, bringing an end to some of the toughest COVID-19 pandemic rules in the world.

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B.C. reports 314 people in hospital, 16 deaths over seven days

The latest COVID-19 numbers from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control show the number of people admitted to hospital with the illness is declining.

The weekly report says 142 people were hospitalized during the week of Sept. 4 to 10, down from 180 admissions during the previous week.

The centre’s COVID-19 dashboard shows a total of 314 patients hospitalized with the illness on Thursday, with 23 in critical care.

The weekly report from the centre for disease control also shows decreasing deaths, with 16 last week, 36 the week before and 44 during the week of Aug. 21

In April, provincial authorities began reporting COVID-19 deaths by including anyone who died from any cause within 30 days of a positive test result for the disease.

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The centre says it will evaluate the cause of each person’s death retroactively to better understand “true COVID-19 mortality.”

Read the full story here.

— The Canadian Press

Some B.C. health care workers no longer need to be vaccinated, provincial health officer rules

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has dropped the requirement for private regulated health professionals to be vaccinated.

This includes dentists, opticians and naturopathic doctors.

“Given the high rates of vaccination in these professions, and the current state of the pandemic, the PHO has decided to not require private, regulated health professionals to be vaccinated at this time,” Henry said in a statement released on Thursday.

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This came as the World Health Organization declared the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight.

Read the full story here.

— David Carrigg

Don’t blame schools for high COVID rates among B.C. youth: provincial health officer

B.C.’s provincial health officer says the findings of a study she co-authored showing children and youth have had the highest rates of COVID-19 in parts of the province should not be interpreted to suggest those infections occurred mostly in schools.

Dr. Bonnie Henry has been criticized by some parents, advocacy groups and health-care professionals who say a major jump in infections occurred during the school year among children under age 10.

They say measures like masking for all students and air filtration upgrades in schools could have been taken earlier to protect children in classrooms from a virus that was known to spread through the air.

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However, Henry says some youth were becoming infected when they were not eligible for a vaccine, and illness among those under 19 was comparable with transmission of the virus in the community.

Read the full story here.

— The Canadian Press

End of COVID pandemic is ‘in sight’: WHO chief

The world has never been in a better position to end the COVID-19 pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, his most optimistic outlook yet on the years-long health crisis which has killed over six million people.

“We are not there yet. But the end is in sight,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a virtual press conference.

That was the most upbeat assessment from the UN agency since it declared an international emergency in January 2020 and started describing COVID-19 as a pandemic three months later.

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The virus, which emerged in China in late 2019, has killed nearly 6.5 million people and infected 606 million, roiling global economies and overwhelming healthcare systems.

Read the full story here.

— Reuters

B.C. Supreme Court chief judge dismisses four challenges to COVID-19 health orders

B.C.’s top trial court judge has dismissed four legal challenges to the province’s COVID-19 health orders.

In one of the cases presided over by Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson of the B.C. Supreme Court, the judge rejected a constitutional challenge to B.C.’s COVID health orders filed by a group called the Canadian Society for the Advancement of Science in Public Policy.

The society argued requiring vaccinations for health-care workers was unconstitutional and also that the orders failed to provide reasonable exemptions and accommodations for people with religious objections, vaccination risks, immunity from prior injection and recent negative COVID testing.

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In ruling against the group, Hinkson found that Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, had assessed available scientific evidence to determine the COVID-19 risk for gatherings in B.C., including data regarding transmission of the virus globally, nationally and in B.C.

Read the full story here.

— Keith Fraser

Study co-authored by B.C.’s top doctor says 80{35112b74ca1a6bc4decb6697edde3f9edcc1b44915f2ccb9995df8df6b4364bc} of kids, youth have had COVID-19

A study co-authored by B.C.’s top doctor says at least 70 to 80 per cent of children and youth in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley have been infected with COVID-19.

The study, which lists Dr. Bonnie Henry among 13 authors, says that in contrast, 60 to 70 per cent of adults aged 20 to 59 and about 40 per cent of those aged 60 and over have been infected.

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The preprint study, which has not been peer-reviewed, was published online on Sept. 9 and says a series of surveillance reports of infections were understating the actual levels of infection by 92 times.

It says the overall rate of infection rose from below 15 per cent to about 60 per cent between October last year and this August, as the highly infectious Omicron variant took hold.

The study is based on 14,000 anonymized blood samples obtained since March 2020 from a network of outpatient laboratories.

—The Canadian Press

Canadians rethinking their financial goals post-pandemic: Poll

A new study has found that the pandemic provided Canadians the opportunity to rethink their financial goals, with many moving, switching careers and planning to travel.

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The study, conducted by Maru Public Opinion on behalf of CIBC in early August, found that 67 per cent of Canadians are re-evaluating their priorities as COVID-19 restrictions come to an end.

The poll asked about 1,500 randomly selected Canadian adults about their financial planning habits now and over the last two years.

Those surveyed reported having made significant life decisions during the pandemic, such as 17 per cent changing jobs and 12 per cent moving to a new home.

Looking ahead, more than one-third of Canadians say they are planning to travel within the next 12 months and 13 per cent say they are planning for a large purchase.

— The Canadian Press

WHO report: 17 million in EU may have suffered long COVID-19

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New research suggests at least 17 million people in the European Union may have experienced long COVID-19 symptoms during the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic, with women more likely than men to suffer from the condition, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

The research, conducted for the WHO/Europe, was unclear on whether the symptoms that linger, recur or first appear at least one month after a coronavirus infection were more common in vaccinated or unvaccinated people. At least 17 million people met the WHO’s criteria of long COVID-19 — with symptoms lasting at least three months in 2020 and 2021, the report said.

“Millions of people in our region, straddling Europe and Central Asia, are suffering debilitating symptoms many months after their initial COVID-19 infection,” said Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, during a conference in Tel Aviv.

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The modelling also suggests that women are twice as likely as men to experience long COVID-19, and the risk increases dramatically among severe infections needing hospitalization, the report said. One-in-three women and one-in-five men are likely to develop long COVID-19, according to the report.

— The Associated Press

College’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate is legal and enforceable, Ontario court rules

In a precedent-setting decision, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has upheld Seneca College’s vaccine mandate for the current school year.

A motion for an injunction against the school’s vaccine policy was issued in January 2022 by two unvaccinated Seneca students. They were represented by lawyers from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF).

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The students argued that the vaccine policy contradicts instructions issued by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and that it violates a number of their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This decision is especially important, said Howard Levitt, one of the lawyers representing Seneca College, as it shows, even now – two and a half years into the pandemic – that vaccine mandates are legal and institutions have a right to enforce them.

In the decision, Superior Court Judge William D. Black found that Seneca College did not contradict the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health’s vaccination guidance.

—Jessica Mundie, National Post

Nunavut rolling out new COVID-19 vaccine to older residents

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Nunavut says it is rolling out the newly approved bivalent COVID-19 vaccine.

The territory is now offering the booster shots to people 70 and older and all residents and staff in long-term care facilities.

It says it will expand eligibility for the vaccine as supply increases.

Residents must have received their primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine at least three months ago to be eligible for the shot.

Earlier this month, Health Canada approved Moderna’s Spikevax bivalent COVID-19 vaccine for people 18 and older.

—The Canadian Press

Ontario opens bivalent vaccine bookings for most vulnerable

Ontario is offering Omicron-targeted COVID-19 vaccines to residents considered the most vulnerable, including people aged 70 and older, long-term care residents and health-care workers.

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The province says its booking system opened Monday morning for bivalent vaccines, and the first appointments can also begin starting today.

Indigenous people and their household members aged 18 and older, immunocompromised people aged 12 and older, pregnant people and health-care workers who are 18 and older are also eligible as of today.

Booster appointments will be paused for people outside those populations to accommodate distribution to the highest-priority groups.

But the province says people aged 18 and older can start booking bivalent booster appointments today for planning purposes.

The vaccine rollout comes after the province received its first shipment of the shots last week.

— The Canadian Press

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New Zealand ends most COVID restrictions as pandemic worry eases

New Zealand scrapped mask wearing rules and vaccine mandates on Monday, bringing an end to some of the toughest COVID-19 pandemic rules in the world about two years after they were put in place.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a weekly news conference that it was time to safely turn the page on the country’s COVID-19 management and live without the extraordinary measures it previously used.

“Finally, rather than feeling that COVID dictates what happens to us, our lives, and our futures, we take back control,” Ardern said.

For the first time in two years we can approach summer with the much needed certainty New Zealanders and business need, helping to drive greater economic activity critical to our economic recovery,” she added.

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All mask wearing requirements were removed, except in healthcare and aged care facilities. Only COVID-19 positive individuals will be required to isolate for seven days, while household contacts no longer need to, the government said in a statement.


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.

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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.

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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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