High herd immunity to COVID-19 in B.C., officials say, as global health emergency ends

Click to play video: 'COVID no longer considered a global health emergency'
COVID no longer considered a global health emergency
WATCH: COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency, but B.C. health officials say that doesn't mean the virus is gone. Richard Zussman looks at what this announcement means for the province moving forward – May 5, 2023

British Columbia health officials say the World Health Organization’s declaration of the end of COVID-19 as a global health emergency is an “important milestone,” but warn the virus will still be around for the foreseeable future.

Minister of Health Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry say in a joint statement that COVID-19 is no longer causing severe disease in most people.

They attribute the “high level of population immunity” to vaccination and the combination of boosters and infection. The statement says the province has been transitioning out of the emergency phase of the pandemic for a while.

Click to play video: 'Long COVID patients decry government closure of in-person clinics'
Long COVID patients decry government closure of in-person clinics

It says B.C. has been integrating COVID-19 surveillance, monitoring, processes and supports into its regular health system operations.

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Vaccination requirements for health-care system workers remain in place and the statement says the government will continue monitoring to ensure its public health response protects those most vulnerable to infection.

“COVID-19 is another respiratory illness we must pay attention to and use the tools we have learned. We encourage everyone to take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19,” the statement says.

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