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Premier John Horgan says he has COVID but his symptoms are mild

Details about a second booster of the COVID vaccine are expected Tuesday
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Premier John Horgan says he has tested positive for COVID-19. GOVERNMENT OF B.C.

B.C. Premier John Horgan tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, but said via Twitter that his symptoms are mild — “and that is thanks to being fully vaccinated.”

Horgan, 62, said he’s following public health guidance, isolating and working from home until his symptoms resolve.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wished the premier a quick recovery, writing on social media: “sorry to hear, my friend.” Horgan, chair of the Council of the Federation, met with Trudeau in Vancouver last week.

Although the mask mandate was dropped in B.C. on March 12, Horgan has continued to wear a mask in public — with the exception of when he’s at a microphone — saying he is immuno-compromised and needs extra protection.

Horgan, who completed 35 radiation sessions for throat cancer in January and returned to the legislature the next month, was busy last week with several events involving travel.

On Tuesday, Horgan met with Trudeau in Vancouver, where the two discussed the reduction of emissions.

On Wednesday, Horgan was in Victoria at a news conference with First Nations and Métis leaders at the legislature introducing a plan for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

On Thursday, he was on the mainland as a speaker on the last day of the GLOBE Forum.

Omicron variants of the COVID-19 virus typically have a median three-day incubation period.

B.C.’s Green leader Sonia Furstenau and Liberal leader Kevin Falcon wished the premier a speedy recovery.

Green MP Elizabeth May, who represents Saanich-Gulf Islands, announced Thursday that she tested positive for the virus. May said she’s been in Ottawa since March 20, and in a post on her Twitter account, she described COVID-19 rates there as “crazy high.” She said she isolated herself when she started feeling unwell, posting: “This illness is no joke. I do not think i’ll be hospitalized, but very sick. And angry. Too many people unmasked.”

Premiers in Quebec, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island have previously tested positive for COVID-19. The prime minister, who was fully vaccinated and had his booster shot, announced on Jan. 31 that he had tested positive for COVID-19, along with two of his children.

While some epidemiologists in B.C. say the province is now in the sixth wave of the pandemic, Health Minister Adrian Dix said that there has been “some rebounding” of COVID hospitalizations — about 320 on Monday, which is still “significantly below” the 1,058 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Feb. 2.

The presence of the virus has also increased slightly in wastewater samples, said Dix.

A fourth vaccine shot, or second booster, is expected to be made available to vulnerable people in B.C.— for example, those in long-term care. Details are expected Tuesday. COVID-19 disproportionately affects people who are elderly and have existing health problems, including being immune-compromised.

On Friday, the province passed the 3,000 mark for deaths related to the virus since the pandemic was declared in March 2020.

In B.C., almost 91.1 per cent of eligible people 12 and older in B.C. have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine and 57.5 per cent have had a booster shot.

Last month, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she expects the B.C. Vaccine Card won’t be needed to enter non-essential businesses and venues effective April 8, citing a significant reduction in COVID-19 hospitalizations and high rates of vaccination.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com