COVID-19 update for Dec. 4-5: Canada reports 15 cases of Omicron variant | 405 new cases, six deaths | B.C. ahead of curve on booster shots, says Dix

Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C.

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Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for Dec. 4-5, 2021.

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We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on in B.C. right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly throughout the day, with developments added as they happen.

Check back here for more updates throughout the day. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.


B.C.’S COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS

As of the latest figures given on Dec. 3:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 219,584 (3,071)
• New cases since Dec. 1: 405
• Total deaths: 2,351 (six additional deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 276
• Intensive care: 95
• Total vaccinations: 4,229,649 received first dose; 4,079,277 second doses
• Recovered from acute infection: 214,047
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 5

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IN-DEPTH:   Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus in 2021 | in 2020


B.C. GUIDES AND LINKS

COVID-19: Here’s everything you need to know about the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: B.C.’s vaccine passport is here and this is how it works

COVID-19: Here’s how to get your vaccination shot in B.C.

COVID-19: Look up your neighbourhood in our interactive map of case and vaccination rates in B.C.

COVID-19: Afraid of needles? Here’s how to overcome your fear and get vaccinated

COVID-19: Five things to know about the P1 variant spreading in B.C.

COVID-19: Here’s where to get tested in Metro Vancouver

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool


LATEST NEWS on COVID-19 in B.C.

Canada reports 15 cases of Omicron variant

Canada has discovered a total of 15 cases of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 and severe illness trends across the country could start to rise again, public health officials said on Friday.

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The federal government said it backed a recommendation of a national advisory board on immunizations that all adults above 50 should receive a booster shot six months after completion of a vaccine series.

Ottawa announced last week it will require people arriving by air from all nations except the United States to take a COVID-19 test, and it expanded a ban on travelers from southern Africa to cover 10 nations.

“The need for heightened vigilance remains, regardless of which variant is circulating,” chief public health officer Theresa Tam told reporters. She announced 11 Omicron cases, all involving people who had recently traveled abroad.

Hours after she spoke, the city of York said a child under 12 had been diagnosed with Omicron. The child had recently traveled to southern Africa, it said in a statement.

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Toronto then reported its first three cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant late on Friday, local health officials said, with two of those individuals having recently returned from Nigeria, while another individual had returned from Switzerland.

“Currently severe illness trends have levelled off, but are still elevated and could begin to rise again, unless we keep infection rates down,” Tam said.

—Reuters

South African official says number of children sick with COVID-19 is not cause for panic

Higher hospital admissions among children during a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections in South Africa that is driven by the Omicron variant should prompt vigilance but not panic as infections have been mild, a health official said on Saturday.

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A large number of infants admitted with COVID-19 last month in Tshwane, the metropolitan area that includes the capital Pretoria, raised concerns that the Omicron variant could pose greater risks for young children than other coronavirus variants.

Scientists have yet to confirm any link and have cautioned that other factors could be at play.

Ntsakisi Maluleke, a public health specialist in the Gauteng province that includes Tshwane and the biggest city Johannesburg, said that out of the 1,511 COVID-positive patients in hospitals in the province 113 were under 9 years old, a greater proportion than during previous waves of infection.

“We are comforted by clinicians’ reports that the children have mild disease,” she told Reuters in an interview, adding health officials and scientists were investigating what was driving the increased admissions in younger ages and were hoping to provide more clarity in the coming two weeks.

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Since only a small percentage of South Africa’s positive COVID-19 tests are sent for genomic sequencing, officials do not yet know which variants the children admitted to hospital have been infected with.

— Reuters

B.C. ahead of curve on booster shots, says Dix

British Columbia’s health minister says the province is “ahead of the curve” on recommendations by a national advisory group that Canadians ages 50 and older get a COVID-19 booster.

Adrian Dix says his ministry announced weeks ago that it would start its booster program and already 470,000 people have had a third shot.

The recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization gives provinces and territories the go-ahead to expand the limited booster shot campaign.

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Dix says B.C. ramped up plans to accommodate a surge for third doses after many residents received second shots in July and August, putting the six-month time frame for a booster in January and February.

He says those living and working in all long-term care and seniors’ facilities have had a booster and almost half of those 70 and over have received a third shot.

Dix says most of those who have had their third shot have done so within the six-month time limit suggested by the national committee.

—The Canadian Press

New U.S. international travel testing rules take effect Monday

New rules requiring international air travellers arriving in the United States to obtain a negative COVID-19 test within one day of travel will take effect Monday at 12:01 a.m. ET, according to an order issued late Thursday.

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The administration is considering whether to grant temporary exemptions for about two dozen countries where access to same-day testing is limited, but the details are still being finalized, the sources added. Those exemptions could last for only about a week and are expected to be detailed on Friday.

—Reuters


B.C. MAP OF WEEKLY COVID CASE COUNTS, VACCINATION RATES

Find out how your neighbourhood is doing in the battle against COVID-19 with the latest number of new cases, positivity rates, and vaccination rates:


B.C. VACCINE TRACKER



LOCAL RESOURCES for COVID-19 information

Here are a number of information and landing pages for COVID-19 from various health and government agencies.

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool

Vancouver Coastal Health – Information on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

HealthLink B.C. – Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page

B.C. Centre for Disease Control – Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update

World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

–with files from The Canadian Press

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