B.C. reports record-breaking 2,944 new cases of COVID-19 in one day
Province announced return to school will be delayed a week for most K-12 students
B.C. health officials announced a record-breaking 2,944 new cases of COVID-19 since Tuesday and five more deaths since Dec. 24.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a news conference that there are 16,014 active cases of people with the illness in B.C. and 2,452 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.
A total of 193 people are in hospital, including 66 in intensive care.
Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are up by 3.2 per cent from last Wednesday, when 187 people were in hospital with the disease, and down by about 36.3 per cent from a month ago when 303 people were in hospital.
The number of patients in intensive care is down by about seven per cent from 71 a week ago and by 42.6 per cent from a month ago when 115 people were in the ICU.
The provincial death toll from the disease is now 2,419 out of 246,671 confirmed cases to date.
The regional breakdown of new cases is as follows:
- 571 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, which has 5,462 total active cases and 1,265 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.
- 1,591 new cases in Fraser Health, which has 7,192 total active cases and 628 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.
- 309 new cases in Island Health, which has 1,363 total active cases and 436 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.
- 374 new cases in Interior Health, which has 1,576 total active cases and 114 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.
- 99 new cases in Northern Health, which has 431 total active cases and seven confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.
- No new cases among people who reside outside Canada, a group with zero active cases.
There are seven active outbreaks at long-term care, acute care, and assisted living facilities.
Four new outbreaks were declared at long-term care facilities in Fraser Health — the Oxford Senior Care Home in Abbotsford, Fort Langley Seniors Community, AgeCare Harmony Court in Burnaby, and the Waverly Seniors Village in Chilliwack.
An additional outbreak was declared at Detwiller Pavillion at the University of B.C. Hospital. There is one active acute care outbreak at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.
As of Wednesday, 91.9 per cent of those 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 89.1 per cent a second dose, and 18.5 per cent a third dose.
When taking into account those five and older, 88 per cent of people in B.C. had received a first shot and 82.8 per cent a second dose.
From Dec. 21-27, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 15.9 per cent of cases and from Dec. 14-27, they accounted for 57.6 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province.
So far, 9.33 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 4.12 million second doses.
In-person school start delayed by a week
Health officials announced at the news conference that the reopening of K-12 schools will be delayed a week for most students.
School staff will return on Jan. 3 or 4 as planned, with a full return to classes for students a week later on Jan. 10.
Children of essential workers and those with special needs will be able to return next week, as planned.
Enhanced measures will be coming to schools, including daily health checks for students, staggered break times to avoid crowding, and virtual-only school gatherings.
It comes after the B.C. Teachers' Federation (BCTF) said Wednesday the provincial and district officials "need to do more" if they want to keep schools open in January, as cases of the Omicron variant continue to rise in the province and across Canada.
"We are in a new pandemic ... and we're in a situation where we have a very highly transmissible variant that impacts people that are even vaccinated," president Teri Mooring told CBC News.
"Without planning, there's going to be a good possibility of staff and students impacted by Omicron."
Mooring said the union is recommending the province make eight changes before reopening in January, including prioritizing booster shots for teachers and staff as well as providing N95 masks and rapid tests to all schools.
With files from The Early Edition