B.C.'s daily COVID number surges to all-time high

New record high fuelled by Omicron variant as restrictions are reimposed

Daily COVID cases in the last 24 hours surged to 1,308, significantly higher than both spikes in November 2020 and April of this year | Chung Chow, BIV

B.C.’s daily new COVID-19 case numbers – now fueled by the fast-spreading Omicron variant – have suddenly skyrocketed from around 300 cases a month ago to an all-time high.

Provincial officials confirmed the news Tuesday, where new daily COVID cases in the last 24 hours surged to 1,308, significantly higher than both spikes in November 2020 and April of this year – the latter of which generated the previous daily high of 1,293 on April 8.)

The surging numbers, which match the trends in other jurisdictions around the country, were one of the reasons the province began reimposing strict social gathering measures that will last until at least mid-January, as was announced earlier today.

According to provincial data, the new spike now puts the number of active COVID cases in B.C. at 6,348. The numbers show 192 patients hospitalized over the virus, with 76 in intensive care.

One new death, in the Northern Health region, was reported in the last 24 hours. That brings the pandemic’s total death toll in B.C. to 2,403.

The new infections, data shows, are now driven by Omicron. Vancouver Coastal Health again led all regions with 525 new cases in the last 24 hours. To date, 413 cases of the Omicron variant have been reported by VCH.

Omicron cases are also prevalent in Island Health and Fraser Health regions, with 204 and 129 cases so far, respectively. Cases of Omicron in Interior Health (8) and Northern Health (2) are relatively few up to now.

In non-VCH regions, new cases in the last 24 hours were as follows: Fraser Health 419, Island Health 202, Interior Health 138 and Northern Health 23.

New case numbers in B.C. were already showing signs of spiking over the weekend, when Friday’s figures breached 900 new cases (hitting 911) before numbers for both Saturday and Sunday surpassed 800.

In places like Ontario, where similarly strict gathering restrictions were implemented recently because of Omicron, daily new infections have topped 4,000 this week after months-long dips below 1,000. Quebec, meanwhile, shockingly reported 2,204 new cases on Nov. 25 after not seeing such high numbers since last January.

Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry confirmed Tuesday’s all-time high in B.C.’s new daily COVID cases, adding that health officials need to get ahead of the virus in imposing gathering restrictions in order to understand how health authorities can more effectively fight the Omicron variant.

The variant has shown it can infect those who are fully vaccinated, although Henry said vaccines are still crucial in the efforts to fight COVID because it reduces the likelihood of infection and severity of symptoms.