COVID-19 update for Dec. 27: Cold forces closure of Richmond testing site | U.S. holiday flight cuts reach 1,800 | Booster bookings unfilled across B.C.

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. 27, 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. 24:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 235,658 (10,415 active)
• New cases since Dec. 23: 2,441
• Total deaths: 2,414 (four deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 192
• Intensive care: 71
• Total vaccinations: 4,377,551 received first dose; 4,126,279 second doses; 807,057 third doses
• Recovered from acute infection: 222,604
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: Two

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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.

3 p.m. (or later) – Health officials are set to share latest figures on COVID-19 in B.C.

Health officials are expected to update the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries across the province.

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Israeli hospital launches first test of second COVID-19 booster

An Israeli hospital administered fourth COVID-19 vaccine doses to a test group of health workers on Monday, in what it called the first major study into whether a second round of boosters will help contend with the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

Results of the trial, likely to be closely watched internationally, will be submitted to Israel’s Health Ministry in about two weeks, said a spokesperson for Sheba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv.

Israel was the fastest country to roll out initial vaccinations a year ago, and became one of the first to launch a booster program after observing that immunity waned over time.

On Monday, the Health Ministry said it was shortening the time between offering the second and third doses of COVID-19 vaccine to three months from five months in order to beat back rising infections as Omicron spreads.

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Concerned about the risk of a sudden surge in hospitalizations, a ministry expert panel last week recommended Israel become the first country to offer a fourth jab to medical workers and those over 60 or with compromised immune systems.

— Reuters

Vancouver Coastal Health closes Richmond COVID-19 testing site due to cold

Vancouver Coastal Health has temporarily closed its Sea Island COVID-19 test collection centre in Richmond due to extreme cold weather.

This is the second test site closed by the authority due to the current cold snap. The St. Vincent site on Heather Street in Vancouver was closed on Friday as snow made for dangerous driving for people in the vehicle queue.

In a statement posted Christmas Day on Vancouver Coastal Health’s Instragram page, the health authority said “due to hazardous weather conditions, operations at the COVID-19 testing site located at YVR airport have been temporarily suspended, effective December 25 at 4p.m.

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“To ensure the safety of staff and clients, all incoming traffic will be temporarily redirected to alternate locations, including testing sites at UBC and ICBC.

“To help manage the potential influx in testing volumes, staff from the YVR testing site will be re-deployed to support these clinics in the interim.”

There is now one site in Vancouver where people can get walk-in PCR tested for COVID-19 – at the Three Bridges Test Collection Site on the 1100-block of Hornby Street

— David Carrigg

U.S. holiday flight cuts near 1,800 as crews come down with COVID

Airlines’ U.S. flight cancellations neared almost 1,800 for the Christmas weekend, disrupting travel on one of the busiest periods of the year as the omicron-fueled wave of Covid cases triggered air-crew shortages.

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Saturday’s pullbacks erased at least 10 per cent of the schedule at Delta Air Lines Inc., United Airlines Holdings Inc. and JetBlue Airways Corp., according to data tracker FlightAware.com. The cuts on Christmas Day in the U.S. totalled almost 900.

“Like many businesses and organizations, we have seen an increasing number of sick calls from Omicron,” JetBlue spokesperson Derek Dombrowski said in an emailed statement. “Despite our best efforts, we’ve had to cancel a number of flights, and additional flight cancellations and other delays remain a possibility as we see more omicron community spread.”

Airlines’ tie-ups added to evidence of economic disruptions from the omicron variant, whose fast spread is causing havoc even though initial indications suggest that it causes less-severe illness than other Covid strains. Health-care systems are being squeezed by a lack of staff, and a U.S. Navy warship is stuck at Guantanamo Bay after a Covid outbreak on board.

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— Bloomberg News

Hundreds of thousands COVID-19 booster shot appointments still unbooked in B.C.

With no end in sight to the highly infectious spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the province is renewing its call for British Columbians to schedule booster vaccine doses amid growing unbooked appointments at clinics.

As spots opened up Thursday to people ages 63 to 64, available appointments not claimed included 7,000 this week and 25,000 in the following, “of which a total of 14,000 … are located in the Interior,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said at a Friday news conference.

“In the first three weeks of January, 203,000 are not booked with more appointments going up every day.”

The province’s vaccine rollout continues to target people at greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 by offering them a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a total of 656 clinic locations around the province, including those of health authorities and pharmacies.

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“When you receive an invitation, I strongly encourage you to book … because you are in a category of people, either due to age or other circumstances, where you should get your third dose and get it now.”

Twenty per cent of the eligible population has already received their third dose. Seventy-five per cent of those 70 and older who are eligible have received a booster dose.

— Sarah Grochowski


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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