COVID-19 update for Jan. 1-2: Health officials restricting visitors at long term care homes | 3,795 new cases, three deaths | Britain approves Pfizer’s antiviral COVID-19 pill

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 Jan. 1-2, 2022.

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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. 31:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 254,849 (20,811 active)
• New cases: 3,795
• Total deaths: 2,420 (three new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 220 (up by nine)
• Intensive care: 73 (up by eight)
• Total vaccinations: 4,392,141 received first dose; 4,133,438 second doses; 909,248 third doses
• Recovered from acute infection as of Dec. 30: 231,058
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: Fifteen

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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.

B.C. daily case count record remains high with hospitalizations up

British Columbia reported a daily count of 3,795 new COVID-19 cases Friday, on the eve of the year 2022.

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The Health Ministry says in a news release there were 17,357 active cases across the province and three more people have died.

Hospitalizations rose by nine patients to 220, with eight more people, for a total of 73, in intensive care.

From Dec. 23 to 29, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 16 per cent of all COVID-19 cases and 55 per cent of hospitalizations from Dec. 16 to 29.

There have been 2,825 cases of the Omicron variant confirmed in B.C.

The ministry also confirmed two new health-care facility outbreaks, including one at Kopernik Lodge in Vancouver Coastal Health and Amica Douglas House in Island Health, bringing the total facilities dealing with ongoing outbreaks to 15.

Five things to know about B.C.’s new measures to address Omicron wave

1. Can I visit my relative in a long-term care home?

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No, not for at least the next few weeks. Beginning Saturday, only essential service visitors will be allowed to go into care homes in order to protect vulnerable seniors and health care workers from catching the Omicron variant of concern.

Health officials will re-evaluate this decision on Jan. 18.

2. I have been self-isolating because of COVID-19. When should I go back to work?

Henry recommends each employer have a plan in place for when to allow staff members to come back to work if they have been off sick or self-isolating because of exposure.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and you are fully immunized with two shots of the vaccine you only need to self isolate for five days if you are symptom-free instead of 10. If you are unvaccinated you still have to self isolate for 10 days.

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3. When will I receive my invitation to get a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you are over age 60 and you had your second dose six months ago you likely already received your invitation to book a booster or should in the next week. As well, if you received double AstraZeneca you should also have received an invite regardless of age.

The province is also fast-tracking booster shots for pregnant people. So if you are pregnant you should not wait for an invitation and just call to book an appointment if it has been six months since your last shot.

Previously, health officials said they would roll out boosters for the general population between six and eight months after the second dose of vaccine. However, now they are moving that up to six months. Health officials say it will take time to send out the invitations but the plan is to get anyone between 18 and 59 an invite as close to that six-month mark as possible.

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There is a backlog of about 800,000 people under the age of 60 who have just passed the six-month mark of their second dose, so health officials will be sending out those invites first.

4. I have passed the six-month mark for my second dose of vaccine. Am I protected?

Henry said that the effectiveness of the vaccine begins to decline at about six months. She said it is a gradual decline, however, and you are not just suddenly unprotected.

5. Should we expect more restrictions in the coming days because of the Omicron variant?

Unclear. Henry said while there are more restrictions in Ontario and Quebec, B.C. has managed its own pandemic and has different challenges.

More restrictions will depend on the number of hospitalizations and people in ICU.

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Britain approves Pfizer’s antiviral COVID-19 pill

Britain has approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill for adults who have mild to moderate infection and are at high risk of their illness worsening, its second easily administered antiviral against the coronavirus.

Britain is scrambling to build its defenses amid a record hit a daily record of new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, government data showed surge in COVID-19 cases in the winter season as the Omicron variant of the virus spreads quickly.

Based on data, the pill, Paxlovid, is most effective when taken during the early stages of COVID-19, Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said on Friday, recommending it be used within five days of the first symptoms.

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Pfizer this month said Paxlovid showed near 90% efficacy in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk patients, and recent lab data suggests the drug retains its effectiveness against the fast spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

B.C. health officials restricting visitors at long term care homes

Visitors to long term care homes are now restricted to essential personnel only in a bid to stem the spread of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, brought in the new restriction Friday, saying the virus is spreading rapidly in the community.

She said they are limiting visitors starting Saturday to protect vulnerable seniors and health care workers. The government will re-evaluate this decision on Jan. 18.

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“This virus has changed,” said Henry, adding that while it has become more infectious it appears to be a milder illness in those who are fully vaccinated.


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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