COVID-19 cases in B.C. ICUs at low since August

Province reports first case of the Omicron variant

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix spoke to media earlier today | Photo: B.C. government

While B.C. continues to find success in its battle against COVID-19, there was at least one worrying sign identified November 30, as health officials confirmed the province's first case of the Omicron variant. 

That infection is in a person who recently returned from Nigeria, and is self-isolating in the Fraser Health region, while officials track the person's contacts. 

Omicron is known to spread quite rapidly, although global health officials have not yet reached a consensus on whether those infected with the variant get more severe illness, or if the variant is better able to elude the protection that vaccines offer. Global officials have dubbed this strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, a "variant of concern," despite that uncertainty.

The Canadian government has also put in new travel restrictions in an attempt to slow Omicron's progression across the country.

Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry said almost all COVID-19 cases in B.C. remain being the Delta variant. 

Some good news is that the number of extremely serious COVID-19 infections in B.C. continues to fall, with 104 people fighting for their lives in B.C. intensive care units (ICUs). That is the lowest number of people in those wards since August 31, when there were 103 such individuals. 

The number of those in hospital with the disease dipped by three overnight, to 300. No new COVID-19 deaths keeps B.C.'s pandemic death toll at 2,333.

Active COVID-19 infections in B.C. rose by seven overnight, to 2,889, as the 358 new cases outpaced the number of what the province considers to be recoveries. 

The B.C. government usually considers COVID-19 patients to have recovered if they have gone 10 days following first feeling symptoms, as they are therefore deemed to no longer be infectious. Some patients, however, continue to have health problems for months after their recoveries.

The 358 new cases detected in the past day includes:
• 107 in Fraser Health;
• 53 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
• 85 in Interior Health;
• 56 in Northern Health; and
• 57 in Island Health.

The 2,889 active cases include:
• 1,018 in Fraser Health;
• 443 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
• 552 in Interior Health;
• 337 in Northern Health; and
• 539 in Island Health.

Unvaccinated people continue to be the ones spreading the disease. 

Between November 22 and November 28, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 58.2% of new cases, and between November 15 and November 28, those individuals accounted for 65.9% of hospitalizations. 

This is despite the vast majority of British Columbians already fully vaccinated. 

B.C. government data show that 4,225,218 residents have had at least one dose of vaccine, while 4,069,988, or more than 96.3% of those are fully vaccinated. The government estimates that 91.1% of eligible British Columbians, older than 12 years, have had at least one vaccine shot, while 87.8% of B.C. residents are considered fully vaccinated with two jabs.

The B.C. government last year estimated in that the province's total population is 5,147,712, so Glacier Media's calculation is that more than 82% of B.C.'s total population has had at least one dose of vaccine, and 79% of the province's total population has had two doses. 

Given that the vast majority of British Columbians are already vaccinated, it may not be a surprise that the number of people getting first doses of vaccine fell below 1,000 for the first time this year. There were 964 people getting their first dose of vaccine in the past day, while 2,189 people received their second dose of vaccine.

The government did not reveal how many people have yet had third doses, or so-called "booster doses."

Health Minister Adrian Dix said that pharmacies will be the main way that booster doses are administered, and he said up to 1,000 pharmacies will be equipped to provide these doses by late January. 

Older people endure more serious bouts of COVID-19, which is why the government has required those who work in seniors' homes, and other health-care facilities to be vaccinated.

Some good news is that there are no new COVID-19 outbreaks at B.C. health-care facilities. The outbreak at Abbotsford' Hospital has been declared over, which leaves the province with five active outbreaks in those facilities. •