British Columbia

B.C. reports 31 more people in hospital with COVID-19, 5 more in the ICU and 6 additional deaths

B.C. health officials say 500 people are now in hospital with COVID-19, including 102 in intensive care, as the province reported six more deaths from the disease and 2,612 new cases on Wednesday.

Province records 2,612 new cases of the disease

People stroll down the street in the rain in downtown Vancouver on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

B.C. health officials say 500 people are now in hospital with COVID-19, including 102 in intensive care, as the province reported six more deaths from the disease and 2,612 new cases on Wednesday.

The new numbers represent an increase of 31 COVID-19 patients hospitalized within the last 24 hours, including five more patients in the ICU.

Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are up by 57.7 per cent from last Wednesday, when 317 people were in hospital with the disease and up about 170.2 per cent from a month ago when 185 people were in hospital. 

The number of patients in intensive care is up by about 22.8 per cent from 83 a week ago and up by 41.6 per cent from a month ago when 72 people were in the ICU.


Experts say hospitalizations are a more accurate barometer of the disease's impact, as new case numbers in B.C. are likely much higher than reported, now that the province has hit its testing limit because of the Omicron surge.

There are currently 36,394 recorded active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C.


The provincial death toll from COVID-19 is now 2,455 lives lost out of 288,939 confirmed cases to date.

There are a total of 49 active outbreaks in assisted living, long-term, and acute care facilities. The outbreak at Ridgeview Lodge in Kamloops was declared over.


Acute care outbreaks include. 

  • Surrey Memorial Hospital.
  • Eagle Ridge Hospital.
  • Royal Columbian Hospital.
  • Abbotsford Regional Hospital.
  • Langley Memorial Hospital.
  • Burnaby Hospital.
  • Peace Arch Hospital.
  • Kelowna General Hospital.


As of Wednesday, 88.9 per cent of those five and older in B.C. had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 83.2 per cent a second dose.

From Jan. 4 to 10, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 20.1 per cent of cases and from Dec. 28 to Jan. 10, they accounted for 35.9 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province.

A total of 1.29 million people have received a booster shot to date.

UBC extends online learning

The majority of programs at the University of British Columbia (UBC) will now be offered online starting Wednesday, according to a written statement from the university.

"UBC has made the decision to continue to deliver the majority of programs online until Feb. 7," it said. "We recommend that all students plan to be on campus early in February, so they can be ready for the start of in-person teaching and learning."


It said they are also in the process of making contingency plans for the potential impact of the Omicron variant on their staff.

In December, the school delayed in-person learning and teaching due to COVID-19 safety concerns.

More staff shortages

The impact of the Omicron variant continues to have an effect on staffing in various sectors, with health care no exception.

A doctor's office in downtown Vancouver said Wednesday that "acute" staff shortages due to the Omicron variant have forced it to cancel all in-person appointments for the rest of the week.

"We will be open only for phone and virtual appointments for now. We will update you next week. Sorry for any inconvenience," it said.

On Tuesday, Interior Health temporarily closed the emergency department at Nicola Valley Hospital in Merritt, B.C., until Wednesday morning "due to unforeseen limited physician availability."

The health authority advised residents requiring emergency services to visit Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops or Kelowna General Hospital.

Amid widespread staff shortages, businesses that were ordered to close last month can now apply for provincial relief grants of up to $10,000.

Bars, nightclubs and lounges that do not serve full meals, as well as gyms, fitness centres and event venues, were among those ordered to temporarily close on Dec. 22, with a reopening date set for next Tuesday.

Economic Recovery Minister Ravi Kahlon says more than 3,000 operators could apply for the $10-million relief grant program, which provides between $1,000 and $10,000 to individual businesses.

Stopping the spread of Omicron

Dr. Peter Lin, a medical columnist with the CBC, says isolation, distancing and masks will help protect people from spreading the Omicron variant to their friends and family.

"Isolation has become the buzzword," Lin said on the CBC's The Early Edition. "We know the virus is coming from my breath. So no face-to-face contact, no eating together, no sleeping together."

He recommends people hold their breath underneath their mask and wear an additional face shield on top if they are taking care of someone who has been infected, but he says the best advice would be to isolate as soon as you or someone near you has tested positive for COVID-19.

He said the key to making sure people don't continue spreading the virus is that they isolate before they experience symptoms and continue to stay away from people if they still have symptoms even after the isolation period.

"Don't wait for symptoms. Don't wait for a test. That's how you protect your family and friends," he said.

In response to the arrival of Omicron, the B.C. government has fast-tracked the province's booster program and reduced the isolation period to five days for vaccinated people testing positive without symptoms, allowing them to return to work sooner.

With files from The Early Edition and The Canadian Press