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Active COVID cases in B.C. surge past 10,000 as new daily infections hit fourth straight high

New daily cases in B.C. has now breached 2,000 for two straight days
Active COVID cases in B.C. have now surpassed 10,000 | Dan Toulgoet

B.C.’s new daily COVID numbers continue to skyrocket upwards, hitting an all-time high for the fourth day in a row, provincial statistics show.

The province said Friday – Christmas Eve – saw another 2,441 cases of COVID-19 detected in B.C., up 19% from the previous high (2,046, reported Thursday). Before Friday, new case numbers in B.C. had only surpassed 1,000 a handful of times since March 2020; now, the province has reported two straight days of 2,000-plus new cases.

The numbers are also now showing some minor shifts in infection trends. While Vancouver Coastal Health has been the region most heavily hit by the new, more contagious Omicron variant, Friday saw Fraser Health retake the position as the region with the highest number of new cases (with 1,001). That is up about 33% from Thursday’s numbers. 

Meanwhile, new infections remained high in the VCH region (967 cases, up 87 from Thursdays numbers), Island Health (219 cases) and Interior Health (188). Northern Health continues to see the lowest number of new cases with 66 in the last 24 hours.

With the new infection numbers, active COVID cases in B.C. have now surpassed 10,000 – reaching 10,415. Also, 192 people are now hospitalized with the disease – with 71 in intensive care.

The last 24 hours also saw four more COVID-related deaths, pushing the total toll to 2,414 since the pandemic started.

Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix held a news conference earlier in the day updating people on the situation, where the former called the results of Omicron’s highly contagious nature “a different pandemic” than the one driven by the original COVID virus and the first few variants.

Henry confirmed that the high numbers in the province are driven by Omicron – and that it is circulating mostly among younger demographics (rather than the elderly population that drove earlier spikes of COVID-19 infections).

The new numbers back up Henry’s statements. Omicron has now accounted for 1,613 cases of COVID in B.C.; one day earlier, that number was only about 975 cases, meaning the number of Omicron cases in the province grew by 65.4% overnight.

VCH continues to be the hardest hit by Omicron with 959 cases, followed by Island Health with 347, Fraser Health with 263, Interior Health with 40 and Northern Health with four.

There is now one new health-care facility outbreak in the province (at Ridgeview Lodge in Interior Health), bringing the total number of facility outbreaks in B.C. to two.

Again, officials are urging people to get their vaccines or boosters as soon as possible (in addition to maintaining social distancing and crowd avoidance measures). The data shows that, in the past two weeks, the rate of hospitalization per 100,000 people remains much higher among the non-vaccinated (27.2) than the partially (3.1) and totally vaccinated (1.3).

Health officials also noted that, in the last week (Dec. 16 to 22), while the non-vaccinated accounted for 21.9% of new infections, the group also accounted for 67.2% of hospitalizations – meaning that severe outcomes are much more likely without vaccination.

Omicron, however, does continue to prove to be able to achieve breakthrough infections in those who are vaccinated, with 78.1% of the new cases last week (6,376) being seen in fully vaccinated individuals.

On Friday, Henry again cautioned people that negative test results and vaccination statuses are not “green lights” to bypass gathering restrictions now in place (which will last until at least mid-January); rather, the vaccines, she said, are just another layer among the “layers of protection” people need to consider to stay safe during the holiday season and through to early January.