Just ahead of Christmas, B.C.’s COVID-19 numbers – fed by the extremely contagious Omicron variant – have exploded.The vaccine continues to prove effectively, however, in stemming severe outcomes. Provincial data shows that – per 100,000 population – the number of infections that led to hospitalization among non-vaccinated individuals was 27 (for the last two weeks), while the same number for partially vaccinated people (3.1) and fully vaccinated individuals (1.2) were much lower.
Provincial data shows that new daily cases in the province spiked to an all-time high for the third day in a row, with 2,046 new infections reported Thursday. That staggering number is about double the highest point of the previous, non-Omicron driven spike in April – and four times the number of the daily new infection figures reported just a month ago at around 400-500 cases.
The new infections mean that active cases in B.C. have jumped from 2,876 - recorded earlier this month - to 8,739 as of today, in a span of three weeks. About 195 people are now hospitalized, and 75 are in intensive care.
The rapid spread of COVID’s latest variant has quickly grown into Canada’s most severe coronavirus spike yet. As recently as Dec. 6, new daily cases were as low as 284.
One new death from the disease was also reported in the last 24 hours – in the Island Health region – bringing the total death toll from the pandemic in B.C. to 2,410.
Both Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are now scheduled to speak at a news conference on Friday morning at 10 a.m. Provincial officials just announced earlier this week a string of more stringent social gathering restrictions, including the closure of bars and gyms, until mid-January.
According to provincial data, Vancouver Coastal Health continues to see the most cases in this latest, Omicron-driven spike. VCH saw 880 new cases on Thursday, bringing active cases in the region to 3,729. For comparison, for the three-day period of Dec. 4-6 earlier this month, VCH saw 138 new COVID-19 cases over a 72-hour period.
The latest data also shows that – in the last 24 hours – there were 741 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 248 new cases in Island Health, 123 cases in Interior Health and 53 new cases in Northern Health. There is now also one new case of infection for a person who resides outside of Canada.
As with the data reported on Wednesday, the meteoric rise in new COVID cases is happening without outbreaks at provincial health care, long-term care and assisted-living facilities (which drove previous infection spikes in the province).
The province reported no new outbreaks at those facilities this week, even as daily case numbers skyrocketed from around 700-800 last week to 2,000-plus in the past five days. There is only one active outbreak – at Lions Gate Hospital – currently in the province.
Provincial statistics also show the impact of the Omicron variant more specifically. Officials say there are now 975 cases of the variant in B.C., with more than half (496) in VCH, while Island Health (235) and Fraser Health (221) numbers are both more elevated than those in Interior Health (19) and Northern Health (4).
Omicron has shown the continued ability to break through vaccination protection in terms of infection, with 75.2% (or 5,173) cases of infection in the last week happening to people who have received both vaccine shots or more – compared to 23.5% (1,620) who are non-vaccinated.