COVID-19 update for April 30-May 1: New Omicron lineages can dodge immunity | Quebec still seeing high death rate | Restrictions tighten in Beijing | 42 deaths April 17-23 in B.C., hospitalizations up – 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 daily update with everything you need to know on the COVID-19 situation in B.C. and around the world for April 30-May 1, 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.
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• New Omicron sublineages can dodge immunity from past infections
• Quebec has had as many deaths in current wave as B.C. in entire pandemic
• Restrictions tighten in Beijing, while Shanghai sees signs of life
• Weekly data shows 42 more deaths April 17-23, rise in hospitalizations and ICU admissions
• Ontario reports 15-patient increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, 13 deaths
• Moderna seeks Health Canada approval for COVID-19 vaccine for kids under six

Here are the latest figures given on April 28 for the week of April 17 to 23:

• Hospitalized cases: 570 (as of April 28)
• Intensive care: 47 (as of April 28)
• Total deaths over seven days: 42 (total 3,147)
• New cases: 2,276 over seven days
• Total number of confirmed cases: 363,302

Read the full report here | Next update: May 5 at 1 p.m. or later

Two new sublineages of the Omicron coronavirus variant can dodge antibodies from earlier infection well enough to trigger a new wave, but are far less able to thrive in the blood of people vaccinated against COVID-19, South African scientists have found.

The scientists from multiple institutions were examining Omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages — which the World Health Organization last month added to its monitoring list. They took blood samples from 39 participants previously infected by Omicron when it first showed up at the end of last year.

Fifteen were vaccinated – eight with Pfizer’s shot; seven with J&J’s — while the other 24 were not.

“The vaccinated group showed about a five-fold higher neutralization capacity … and should be better protected,” said the study, a pre-print of which was released over the weekend.

Read the full story here.

— Reuters

Percylla Battista said she last spoke to her sister, Maggie Quart Robitaille, a week before Quart Robitaille tested positive for COVID-19.

“She was feeling pretty good,” Battista said in a recent interview. “She didn’t think she would get COVID because she had already been vaccinated four times.”

But on April 13, Quart Robitaille died at age 82, less than two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19. She was among the 3,325 people reported to have died in the province from the novel coronavirus since the Omicron wave started in mid-December.

While vaccination and improved treatment have made COVID-19 less deadly, Quebec reported Saturday that there have been15,000 deaths attributed to the pandemic in the province — the most in Canada. Quebec’s death rate also remains the highest in the country, at 174 deaths per 100,000 people. In Ontario, there have been 86 deaths per 100,000 people. Across Canada, there have been 102.

Read the full story here.

— The Canadian Press

The Chinese capital Beijing tightened COVID restrictions on Sunday as it battled an outbreak, while Shanghai let more of its 25 million residents venture out for light and air after reporting a second day of zero infections outside of quarantine areas.

The outbreak in Shanghai, which began in March, has been China’s worst since the early months of the pandemic in 2020. Hundreds of thousands have been infected and the city has forbidden residents from leaving their homes, to great public anger.

Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, personally in Shanghai to oversee the city’s counter-epidemic work, said on Sunday that while now is not the time to relax, communities with no new cases for seven days should be allowed to return to “normal social order.”

The outbreak in China’s most populous city and the risk of a spread in Beijing are testing the government’s zero-COVID approach that has placed tremendous pressure on local economies in a year when Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term as president.

Read the full story here.

— Reuters

The latest weekly data on the COVID-19 pandemic in British Columbia paints a sobering picture of a stubbornly persistent current wave of the Omicron variant.

Data released Thursday for the week of April 17 to 23 showed 42 newly reported deaths during that period, an average of six people dying from COVID-19 every day. Twenty-seven died in the last weekly reporting period before this one.

A total of 3,147 have died from the novel coronavirus in B.C. since early 2020.

Even with those 42 victims of the virus being removed from data on hospitalizations, the number of people in hospital as of Thursday rose from 485 a week ago to 570; 57 of them are in intensive care, a jump of 19 from last week.

Read the full story here.

— Joseph Ruttle

Ontario is reporting 13 additional deaths linked to COVID-19 today and a 15-patient increase in hospitalizations linked to the disease.

The Health Department says 1,676 people are in hospital, up from 1,661 on Thursday.

It says 188 people are in intensive care, a decline of 14.

The province says 2,799 new infections were confirmed with PCR testing, which is limited to certain higher-risk groups.

It says 13.8 per cent of tests analyzed on Friday were positive.

The scientific director of Ontario’s panel of COVID-19 advisers has said multiplying the daily case count by 20 would give a more accurate picture.

—The Canadian Press

The first COVID-19 vaccine for infants and very young children is now under review by Health Canada.

Moderna Canada President Patricia Gauthier said Friday the company sent an application to the Canadian vaccine regulator late Thursday for a vaccine to protect children between six months and five years old.

“It’s now in the hands of Health Canada,” she said at an event in Montreal where the company announced plans to build a vaccine production plant.

Health Canada authorized Moderna’s Spikevax vaccine for adults in December 2020, for teenagers in August 2021 and for children ages six to 11 in March.

There is no vaccine authorized for children younger than five. Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine can be used on children as young as five but its version for younger children was delayed because two doses didn’t produce a strong enough immune response.

—The Canadian Press

It’s shaping up to be a summer of festivals, fun and crowds following two years of COVID-19 shutdowns.

Now Vancouver’s annual Honda Celebration of Light has announced its dates and lineup for the annual fireworks competition at English Bay, after a two-year hiatus in 2020 and 2021. The last show was in 2019 and included Canada, Croatia and India.

Celebration of Light organizers have announced that this year’s competitors will be Japan, Canada and Spain.

Japan’s Akariya Fireworks will perform Saturday, July 23, followed by Canada’s Midnight Sun Fireworks on Wednesday, July 27. Finally, Spain’s Pirotecnia Zaragozana will go on Saturday, July 30.

Read the full story here.

—Tiffany Crawford

Hong Kong will shorten mandatory hotel quarantine for passenger flight crews to three days from seven, while cargo crews will be exempt, modest steps at unwinding coronavirus curbs that have turned the city into one of the world’s most isolated places.

The changes, which take effect in May, give the global financial hub’s aviation trade and logistics industries “much needed survival space,” the government said in a statement on Friday.

Hong Kong said it was also lifting an outbound travel alert on overseas countries from May, more than two years after it was first implemented in March 2020.

“The epidemic situations in overseas countries/territories with frequent traffic with Hong Kong have generally been on a downward trend…The risk of traveling overseas has lowered relatively,” the government said in a separate statement.

Hong Kong has some of the world’s strictest COVID-19 rules. Non-residents will be allowed to enter the city for the first time in more than two years from May, the government announced on April 22.


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 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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