COVID-19 update for Jan. 5: Feds to distribute 140 million rapid tests | Mass sickness expected as Omicron takes over | Seniors’ advocate pushes for easing of restrictions

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. 5, 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 Jan. 4:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 266,710 (27,106 active)
• New cases: 2,542
• Total deaths: 2,427 (four new deaths since Dec. 31)
• Hospitalized cases: 298 (up by 78 since Dec. 31)
• Intensive care: 86 (up by 13 since Dec. 31)
• Total vaccinations: 4,264,858 received first dose (92% of eligible pop. 12+); 4,136,309 second doses (89.2%); 961,014 third doses (20.7%)
• Recovered from acute infection: 236,309
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 24

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

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

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.

Provinces to receive 140 million rapid tests this month, Trudeau says

The federal government will ship 140 million rapid COVID tests to provinces this month, as the prime minister encouraged Canadians to hunker down for the next few months to get past an Omicron wave of COVID-19.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the new rapid tests would be going to provinces this month, roughly four times what the government shipped to province in January.

He said he shared the frustration of parents in many parts of the country who are returning to virtual school and seeing new lockdowns. He said there is no “magic bullet” to deal with this latest wave.

“I understand people are frustrated but I also know that we know how to get through this,” he said. “We know because we’ve seen it before. When waves have hit like this Omicron wave has hit, we have to hunker down, we have to pull together and it gets better.”

Trudeau said people should get vaccinated if they haven’t been already and should wear masks when outside and stay home when they’re sick.

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“We’re looking at a better spring as long as we all keep doing our part.”

In its last fiscal update, the government earmarked $1.7 billion to secure a supply of about 180 million rapid tests.

The prime minister also confirmed there are enough vaccine doses in Canada for everyone in the country to get their booster.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says there will be enough child-sized doses for all kids aged five to 11 this month.

— Postmedia News, The Canadian Press, Reuters

Trudeau and Tam to hold first federal COVID update of 2022 today

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam will join Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this morning for the first federal COVID-19 update of the new year.

The update follows Trudeau’s phone call yesterday with B.C. Premier and Council of the Federation chair John Horgan, where the prime minister said he would hold a call with the premiers next week to discuss how governments are keeping citizens safe.

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The surge in cases brought on by the Omicron variant has forced multiple provinces to postpone non-urgent surgeries, reduce access to COVID tests and delay the return to in-person learning for students.

— The Canadian Press

Business owners warned to prepare for mass sickness as Omicron takes control

B.C. businesses have been warned to prepare for as many as a third of their workforce to be sick on any given day, as the highly transmissible COVID-19 Omicron variant takes over across the province.

On Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said business owners should reactivate their COVID safety plans to prevent business closures due to a lack of staff, but wouldn’t make that an order.

“Given the rate of transmission, the short incubation period and the high number of people who are getting ill, we need now all businesses to put contingency plans in place to keep businesses operating when staff are off ill,” said Henry, as she reported 2,542 new cases of the disease over the past day, with 80 per cent of all cases in B.C. now the Omicron variant.

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“At this point, given the number of people getting sick every day, we need to reactivate those COVID-19 safety plans. We need to anticipate that as many as a third of your workforce at any one time may become ill with COVID-19, and they may not be able to come to work. We need to adapt businesses so we can operate at these reduced numbers.

Seniors’ advocate, care home operators want restrictions eased to allow more visitors in long-term care

B.C.’s seniors’ advocate and care home operators say a new restriction that allows only one “designated” essential visitor per long-term care home resident is cruel and unnecessary.

They want the rule changed so that every care home resident will be allowed to have one visitor while restrictions are in place. The advocates say less than a quarter of long-term care home residents have a “designated” essential visitor and being approved for one is arbitrary.

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“I don’t understand the reluctance to categorically state that every resident is entitled to an essential visitor, and not based on the system that we have now, which is decided by criteria applied by each individual care home administrator,” said seniors’ advocate Isobel Mackenzie.

Since April, there had been no restrictions on visits or the number of visitors at long-term care homes. Mackenzie said the new restriction, announced Friday, means three quarters of people in long-term care have no visitors because they do not yet have a designated essential visitor. And it is not an easy or fast process to get one designated.

— Lisa Cordasco


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:

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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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