COVID-19 update for Nov. 2: Canadian health officials hedging on whether booster shots needed for everyone | Up to 27,000 federal employees miss vaccination deadline | Despite outbreaks, officials say booster-shot program is working

Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C.

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Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for Nov. 2, 2021.

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We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on in B.C. 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.

Check back here for more updates throughout the day. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.


B.C.’S COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS

As of the latest figures given on Nov. 1:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 206,284 (4,668 active)
• New cases since Oct. 29: 1,370 (568, 470 and 332)
• Total deaths: 2,181 (25 additional deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 436 (same patients)
• Intensive care: 140 (down by 16 patients)
• Total vaccinations: 4,169,986 received first dose; 3,954,068 second doses
• Recovered from acute infection: 199,107
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 39

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IN-DEPTH:   Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus in 2021 | in 2020


B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS

COVID-19: Here’s everything you need to know about the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: B.C.’s vaccine passport is here and this is how it works

COVID-19: Here’s how to get your vaccination shot in B.C.

COVID-19: Look up your neighbourhood in our interactive map of case and vaccination rates in B.C.

COVID-19: Afraid of needles? Here’s how to overcome your fear and get vaccinated

COVID-19: Five things to know about the P1 variant spreading in B.C.

COVID-19: Here’s where to get tested in Metro Vancouver

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool


LATEST NEWS on COVID-19 in B.C.

Chief medical officers still hedging on whether COVID-19 booster shots needed for all Canadians

OTTAWA — Despite some Canadian jurisdictions already announcing a timeline to make COVID-19 booster shots available for the general population, a joint statement on Monday by provincial and federal chief medical officers says the data doesn’t yet support giving out third doses beyond a few targeted groups.

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“We continue to base our decision-making on scientific evidence and expert advice to guide the use of authorized COVID-19 vaccines,” said the statement from the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health.

“Given there is currently no evidence of widespread waning of protection against severe disease in the general population who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Canada, boosters for this group are not required at this time but we will continue to monitor vaccine effectiveness and other data to inform the need in the future.”

The statement follows guidance on booster shots issued Friday by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). The guidance strongly recommends booster shots for adults living in long-term care homes and adults over the age of 80 once it’s been more than six months since their first two doses.

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But it is ultimately provinces and territories that will decide how to roll out booster shots. The Northwest Territories has already opened up access to booster shots to anyone aged 18 or older (who got their first doses more than six months ago), and the Yukon has opened it up to everyone aged 50 or older.

British Columbia, meanwhile, is the first province to announce that booster shots will be open to everyone aged 12 or older starting in January 2022.

— The National Post

Up to 27,000 federal public servants miss deadline to affirm they are vaccinated

OTTAWA — The federal government appears to have as many as 27,000 public servants who have yet to attest that they are vaccinated against COVID-19, leaving them with two weeks to get the shot or face suspension.

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The deadline for public servants to attest that they had been vaccinated passed last Friday, with people working across the core public service and the RCMP having to sign an attestation by that date.

According to the government’s website, as of Oct. 27, two days before the deadline, 240,000 of the approximately 267,000 people in the public service and the national police force had signed the attestation.

The National Post asked the Treasury Board Secretariat for an update on the numbers, but did not hear back before press time.

Public servants who don’t sign the attestation or aren’t vaccinated have until Nov. 15 to do so before they could be suspended without pay. If they have received at least one dose by Nov. 15, they will have another 10 weeks to get a second dose before again facing suspension.

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— Postmedia News

COVID-19 could be endemic soon. What will that mean?

Expect to hear the word “endemic” a lot more in the coming months as COVID-19 moves from a pandemic to something that is always lurking in the background.

Endemic COVID-19 will be back to normal — kind of.

“It will be part of our lives. But the goal will be to make it a less intrusive part of our lives. No more lockdowns. We will think about it the way we think about other infectious diseases,” said epidemiologist Raywat Deonandan, a global health researcher at the University of Ottawa.

“It is possible that we’ll get it to the level of the flu. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. Flu is a killer.”

When will it happen?

“We won’t know until we’re there. Locally, it will probably be sometime next year. The big caveat is that there are no new variants, and that vaccines behave in predictable ways,” said Deonandan.

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“We’re anticipating that we will have COVID seasons for the next few years as we build up immunity. There will be no ticker tape parade, no sign that says ‘We’re endemic!’” said Dr. Doug Manuel, a senior scientist in the clinical epidemiology program at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute who sits on Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

— Postmedia News

Officials insist booster shot program working, despite more outbreaks in care homes

Public health officials insist the program to give booster doses to seniors in care homes did not begin too late in B.C., despite a rise in the number of care homes reporting outbreaks.

There are currently 34 outbreaks of COVID-19 in B.C. care homes, with new outbreaks being added almost daily.

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Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, says the program was not implemented too late, despite B.C. lagging Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan by a month in starting booster shots. By mid-October, nearly all long-term care residents in Ontario had been provided a booster shot.

“I don’t believe our booster program started too late. We waited for the data that showed what the optimal interval was (for booster doses)” Henry said.

She said Monday the province began to experience outbreaks in care homes starting in the summer at facilities where second doses had recently been provided. Over the past month, public health has provided booster doses to almost all residents of care homes, as well as requiring workers and visitors show proof of vaccination.

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— Lisa Cordasco

B.C. cancels some surgeries due to shortages caused by unvaccinated workers: minister

VICTORIA — B.C. hospitals are postponing some surgeries due to staffing shortages created by unvaccinated health-care workers who have been put on unpaid leave, says Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Dix said Monday that 3,325 health-care workers across the province have not been immunized against COVID-19 and are in violation of the government’s proof-of-vaccination policy, which took effect last month.

The staffing shortages will result in reductions of operating services in hospitals in the Interior and Fraser health authorities, while added demand for health care has forced surgery postponements in many other parts of the province, he told a news conference.
Dix mentioned hospitals across the province that are facing staffing pressures, including those in Kamloops, Abbotsford, North Vancouver, Richmond and New Westminster.

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He said of the 127,448 health-care workers in the province, 122,059 are fully vaccinated, while 2,064 have had one vaccine dose.

— The Canadian Press

Feds lift ban on cruise ships but not advisory against travelling on them

The federal government has lifted a ban on cruise ships in Canadian waters — but not a recommendation to avoid cruising.

Local travel agent Claire Newell said the lifting of the ban — effective Monday — wasn’t a surprise, as the government had made that announcement in July.

However, she said it was expected the government would also lift its advisory against people going cruising. On Oct. 21, the federal government lifting an advisory against people flying to foreign locations.

According to the website travel.gc.ca , the cruise ship advisory remains in place because if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs on a cruise ship while the Canadian passenger is outside Canada, it is unlikely there would be government-organized repatriation flights to Canada, the range of consular services would be limited and passengers could be subject to quarantine onboard the ship or in a foreign country.

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Newell said the major cruise lines had put Vancouver on their 2022 cruising itinerary and some ships were expected early in the new year.

— David Carrigg


B.C. MAP OF WEEKLY COVID CASE COUNTS, VACCINATION RATES

Find out how your neighbourhood is doing in the battle against COVID-19 with the latest number of new cases, positivity rates, and vaccination rates:


B.C. VACCINE TRACKER



LOCAL RESOURCES for COVID-19 information

Here are a number of information and landing pages for COVID-19 from various health and government agencies.

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool

Vancouver Coastal Health – Information on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

HealthLink B.C. – Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page

B.C. Centre for Disease Control – Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update

World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

–with files from The Canadian Press

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