COVID-19 update for Dec. 29: Full briefing on B.C. situation today | Test sites close due to cold | BCTF calls for delay of school return | Restricting visits in long-term care wrong: UBC expert

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. 29, 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.


As of the latest figures given on Dec. 28:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 243,731 (10,415 active as of Dec. 23)
• New cases since Dec. 27: 1,785
• Total deaths as of Dec. 23: 2,414 (four deaths)
• Hospitalized cases as of Dec. 23: 192
• Intensive care as of Dec. 23: 71
• Total vaccinations as of Dec. 23: 4,377,551 received first dose; 4,126,279 second doses; 807,057 third doses
• Recovered from acute infection as of Dec. 23: 222,604
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected as of Dec. 23: Two


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


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


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

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry are expected to update the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries across the province. Today will be a full press briefing, the first since before Christmas.


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Metro Vancouver testing capacity crunch as sites close due to cold

Vancouver Coastal Health is urging only those at high risk from COVID-19 to get tested as centres are swamped and several are forced to close due to B.C.’s unusually cold weather.

The emergence of the Omicron variant is driving a surge in cases, especially in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, leading to long lines and delays at most testing centres.

To make matters worse, Vancouver Coastal (VCH) and Fraser Health closed testing sites this week due to the cold.

“Due to hazardous weather conditions, VCH has temporarily suspended operations at the St. Vincent and YVR testing sites and is redirecting people to alternate testing locations,” the health authority said in a series of tweets Tuesday afternoon.


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B.C. Teachers’ Federation calls for delay in return to school

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation is calling for a delay to the planned return to public schools next week as the COVID-19 Omicron variant spreads wildly across the province.

On Tuesday, BCTF president Teri Mooring said that the union had never, until now, advocated for online learning instead of in-person classes.

“We have been advocating for schools to stay open, with all the safety measures, but we see this as a very different scenario right now,” Mooring said. “Even though teachers may not get really sick or need to be hospitalized, they still won’t be able to attend work if they have symptoms, and that’s the concern.”

Mooring said that with too many sick teachers and education assistants, schools would be forced to close due to lack of staff. There were 1,785 cases of COVID-19 reported in B.C. during the past day.


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“The case counts we are seeing are the tip of the iceberg. We know the testing sites are being overwhelmed and we know that Dr. (Bonnie) Henry says this is a different pandemic now, and schools are a reflection of the communities that they are in. At this point, what we are hearing is that even though they have been really careful and even though they are doubly vaccinated, our members are becoming infected.”

Visitor restrictions in long-term care the wrong policy: UBC expert

B.C. shouldn’t go back to restricting visitation to long-term care facilities after the Omicron COVID-19 variant, and instead ramp up rapid testing and maintain the one-site work rule, according to a University of B.C. expert.

“We need to prioritize keeping visitors going into long-term care homes because we know how important that is for residents. People suffered greatly from loneliness and social isolation early in the pandemic,” said Dr. Jennifer Baumbusch, associate professor at the UBC School of Nursing.


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Baumbusch said the health-care system now had the tools to keep residents safe, while allowing for social visits. This includes rapid testing, vaccines and better personal protective equipment.

“We need to see an acceleration of the protective layers,” she said. “Really upping rapid testing for staff and visitors in long-term care, prioritizing booster shots for staff and for those with essential- and designated-visitor status.”

Omicron likely to replace Delta variant, study suggests

Research by South African scientists suggests that Omicron could displace the Delta variant of the coronavirus because infection with the new variant boosts immunity to the older one.

The study only covered a small group of people and has not been peer-reviewed, but it found that people who were infected with Omicron, especially those who were vaccinated, developed enhanced immunity to the Delta variant.


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The analysis enrolled 33 vaccinated and unvaccinated people who were infected with the Omicron variant in South Africa.

While the authors found that neutralization of Omicron increased 14-fold over 14 days after the enrolment, they also found that there was a 4.4-fold increase in neutralization of the Delta variant.

— Reuters


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:


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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