British Columbia

B.C. records 789 new cases of COVID-19 and identifies a total of 302 cases of the Omicron variant

B.C. health officials announced 789 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths on Friday, as the Omicron variant continues to drive a spike in cases.

There are 191 people in hospital with the disease, 74 of whom are in intensive care

Snow falls as a person wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 crosses a road in Burnaby, B.C. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

B.C. health officials announced 789 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths on Friday, as the Omicron variant continues to drive a spike in cases.

There are now 302 cases of the new variant that have been identified in B.C., up from 135 on Thursday, according to the province.

In a written statement, the provincial government said there are currently 4,313 active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A total of 191 people are in hospital, with 74 in intensive care.

 

Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are down by 9.4 per cent from last Friday, when 211 people were in hospital with the disease and by almost 50 per cent from a month ago when 379 people were in hospital. 

The number of patients in intensive care is up by two cases from 72 a week ago and down by 32.1 per cent from a month ago when 109 people were in the ICU.

 

The provincial death toll from COVID-19 is now 2,399 lives lost out of 225,785 confirmed cases to date.

The regional breakdown of new cases is as follows: 

  • 286 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, which has 1,228 total active cases and 93 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant. 
  • 186 new cases in Fraser Health, which has 1,182 total active cases and 58 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.
  • 147 new cases in Island Health, which has 975 total active cases and 145 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.
  • 131 new cases in Interior Health, which has 688 total active cases and five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.
  • 39 new cases in Northern Health, which has 239 total active cases and one confirmed case of the Omicron variant.
  • There are no new cases among people who reside outside of Canada, a group which has one active case total.

The only active outbreak is at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.

The number of cases in the Vancouver Coastal Health region has spiked sharply since the Omicron variant was first reported. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

As of Friday, 91.6 per cent of those 12 and older in B.C. had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 88.7 per cent a second dose, and 15 per cent a third dose.

When taking into account those five and older, 86.9 per cent of people in B.C. had received a first shot and 82.5 per cent a second dose.

From Dec. 9 to 15, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 42.8 per cent of cases and from Dec. 2, they accounted for 71.6 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province.

So far, 9.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 4.1 million second doses.

The number of pediatric doses given to children in B.C. over the last two weeks has stayed relatively consistent, but the number of third doses given has seen sharp rises and falls. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

New COVID-19 restrictions in B.C.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced new health and safety restrictions in B.C. that will begin midnight Sunday, Dec. 19 and extend until Jan. 31, 2022. 

All indoor personal gatherings for vaccinated people are limited to one household and either one other household or 10 individuals. No indoor personal gatherings are permitted for unvaccinated people.

 

Proof of vaccination is now required for all events, in contrast to prior restrictions that only required proof of vaccination for events of 50 or more people.

Venues with a capacity of 1,000 or more people are now limited to 50 per cent. Sports tournaments for all ages and associated travel are suspended until Jan. 31.

All New Years Eve parties are to be suspended, no matter the size. Restaurants can operate at full capacity with no restrictions on hours of operation and serving alcohol, but guests must remain at their tables and masks must be worn when walking through the space. The ban on dancing remains. 

Henry said the Omicron variant is rapidly replacing the other variants in B.C. 

"It is moving quickly, and so must we."

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