B.C. records 1,528 new cases of COVID-19, as daily case numbers jump 161% in 1 week

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

B.C. health officials announced 1,528 new cases of COVID-19 and six more deaths on Wednesday, a day after the province announced new restrictions which will come into effect tonight.

Initially the government reported 1,474 new cases but said the number was provisional due to a delayed data refresh. It subsequently revised the case count upwards late Wednesday afternoon.

The restrictions — which include the cancellation of indoor events, the closure of bars, nightclubs, fitness studios as well as plans to cancel scheduled surgeries — are meant to curb the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Wednesday's case numbers mark the highest one-day total for new cases to date for British Columbia. The number of new cases reported today is up 161 per cent from last Wednesday.

In a written statement, the provincial government said there are currently 7,307 active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C.

COVID-19 in British Columbia by the numbers

A total of 187 people are in hospital, with 71 in intensive care.

Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are down by 3.1 per cent from last Wednesday, when 193 people were in hospital with the disease and about 44.5 per cent from a month ago when 337 people were in hospital.

Current hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in B.C.

The number of patients in intensive care is down by about 7.8 per cent from 77 a week ago and by 38.2 per cent from a month ago when 115 people were in the ICU.

The provincial death toll from COVID-19 is now 2,409 lives lost out of 231,171 confirmed cases to date.

The regional breakdown of new cases is as follows:

  • 709 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, which has 2,950 total active cases.

  • 472 new cases in Fraser Health, which has 2,314 total active cases.

  • 175 new cases in Island Health, which has 1,145 total active cases.

  • 136 new cases in Interior Health, which has 706 total active cases.

  • 35 new cases in Northern Health, which has 191 total active cases.

  • There are no new cases among people who reside outside of Canada, a group which has zero total active cases.

The province did not provide an update on the confirmed number of Omicron cases in the province. As of Tuesday, there were 756 cases of the variant identified in B.C.

COVID-19 infections in B.C. by vaccination status, adjusted by population and age

There is one active outbreak at a health-care facility in the province, at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.

As of Wednesday, 91.8 per cent of those 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 88.9 per cent a second dose, and 16 per cent a third dose.

When taking into account those five and older, 87.6 per cent of people in B.C. had received a first shot and 82.7 per cent a second dose.

From Dec. 14 to 20, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 28.3 per cent of cases and from Dec. 7, they accounted for 70.5 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province.

So far, 9.29 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 4.12 million second doses.

Daily COVID-19 vaccination progress in B.C.

Health-care resources stretched thin

On Tuesday, the province introduced new measures to curb the spread of the Omicron variant. These include no indoor organized gatherings of any size, including weddings, receptions and parties and the closure of bars and nightclubs, as well as gyms and other fitness studios.

Seated events like concerts, sports games, movie theatres have been capped at 50 per cent capacity. The new rules do not include restrictions around travel within B.C. ahead of Christmas.

Personal gatherings are still limited to your household plus 10 guests or one additional household. Everyone in the house must be vaccinated, said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, and it should be the same group of people.

First doses for the young and third doses in B.C., December 2021

In a live news conference Tuesday, Henry said she had decided not to order tighter personal gathering restrictions over the holidays but was recommending keeping bubbles as small as possible, given the transmissibility of the new variant.

Speaking Wednesday morning on CBC's The Early Edition, Henry said the overall aim is to make sure the health-care system can continue to function.

"I know how thin our resources are stretched," Henry said. "What we're doing right now is to try and protect the health- care system for everybody who needs it."

Henry said the uncertainty around the pandemic and its persistence has been a source of anxiety, but she re-emphasized that there are things we can do — like masking, distancing, and vaccination — to protect ourselves.

"We know that there are things we need to do that will help us, prevent us from getting sick," she said.

"This is a transition I believe. We need to make sure we have immunity in people around the world so that we aren't getting these other variants arising."

Operation Red Nose cancelled

Operation Red Nose's chapters in Kamloops and the South Coast have cancelled the rest of their operations for the 2021 holiday season due to the new restrictions. The volunteer-run chauffeur service offers a free ride to partygoers who have had too much to drink and can no longer drive themselves home safely.

Elsa Poppleton, a co-ordinator with Operation Red Nose Kamloops, said the service had operated for the past 11 nights and provided 339 rides in Kamloops alone.

"We thought it was best to wrap up the season on a positive note," Poppleton said.

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