British Columbia

COVID-19 test kits, additional vaccine doses at top of many Canadians' holiday wish lists

On the eve of the Christmas holiday, getting additional COVID-19 vaccine shots and rapid test kits are topping the wish lists of many Canadians, amidst the explosive growth of the Omicron variant.

On Christmas Eve, getting additional vaccine shots and rapid test kits are high up on the wish lists of many.

Cars are pictured lined up at a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing clinic in Surrey, B.C., on Dec. 21, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

On the eve of the Christmas holiday, getting access to additional COVID-19 vaccine shots and rapid test kits are topping the wish lists of many Canadians as case numbers rocket to record highs across much of the nation.

Fuelled by the explosive growth of the Omicron variant, coronavirus cases in British Columbia topped 2,000 for the first time, while Quebec reported 9,397 cases Thursday and Ontario 5,790.

In B.C. and many other parts of the country, people have been lining up, often for hours, to get highly sought after vaccine booster shots as well as rapid test kits to try to ensure that holiday gatherings are as safe as possible.

Officials in the province introduced more public health restrictions in B.C. this week, including a shutdown of gyms, bars and nightclubs, as well as plans to cancel scheduled surgeries as the Omicron variant spreads across the province.

In Montreal, a top health official, Dr. Mylene Drouin, confirmed that one of every five tests for the virus was coming back positive, that 60 per cent of positive cases were among people aged 18 to 44, and that 90 per cent of new infections involved the Omicron variant.

COVID-19 case records were also broken in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Most provinces, except Saskatchewan, have responded by reinstating stricter public health measures, including in some cases caps on social gatherings, capacity limits for many venues, and closures of some businesses.

Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, says the Omicron variant is now the dominant mutation of COVID-19 in several provinces and that urgent action is needed to curb its spread.

Meanwhile, on a potentially positive note, the latest preliminary findings from the U.K. Health Security Agency add to emerging evidence that Omicron produces significantly milder illness than other variants, such as Delta, though it spreads much faster and better evades vaccines.

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