COVID-19 update for Jan. 15-16: Officials report 2,275 new cases, six deaths | Omicron wave likely on downward trajectory | Less than half of B.C. kids under 12 have had their first shot

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. 15-16, 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. 14:

• Total number of confirmed cases: 293,521 (35,943 active)
• New cases: 2,275
• Total deaths: 2,468 (six new deaths)
• Hospitalized cases: 646
• Intensive care: 95
• Total vaccinations: 4,436,446 received first dose (89% of eligible pop. 5+); 4,152,386 second doses ( 83.3%); 1,412,008 third doses (30.5%)
• Recovered from acute infection: 251,846
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 46

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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.

Health officials report 2,275 new cases, six deaths

On Friday, health officials reported 2,275 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and six deaths.

There are 35,943 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, and 251,846 people who tested positive have recovered. Of the active cases, 646 COVID-positive individuals are in hospital and 95 are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.

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Most of the new cases are in the Fraser Health region followed by Vancouver Coastal and Vancouver Island.

Less than half of B.C. kids under 12 have had their first shot

Vaccination rates for kids under 12 are as low as 16 per cent in some B.C. communities, despite efforts by authorities to get as many shots as possible into arms.

The latest figures available show 44 per cent of the province’s 349,000 5-11 year olds have had a first dose, while another 35,000 have signed up to get a shot.

But the percentage of kids who have received their first dose of the vaccine varies widely — from less than 20 per cent in parts of the North and Interior to over 80 per cent in parts of the southwest coast and Vancouver Island.

Safety and testing concerns are some of the most common issues raised by parents considering vaccinations for their children, according to doctors and other professionals.

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Read more HERE.

—Nathan Griffiths

U.S. CDC recommends Americans wear ‘most protective mask you can’

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday revised its guidance for Americans on wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, recommending donning “the most protective mask you can” while stopping short of advocating nationwide usage of N95 respirators.

The CDC, an agency critics have accused of offering shifting and confusing guidance amid the pandemic, clarifed on its website “that people can choose respirators such as N95s and KN95s, including removing concerns related to supply shortages for N95s.”

Americans should “wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently,” the CDC added.

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The United States leads the world in COVID-19 deaths – roughly 850,000 – even as it battles a surge of cases involving the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant. Complicating matters is the refusal of some Americans to get vaccinated.

President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the federal government plans to make “high-quality masks” available to Americans for free. In another step, the White House on Friday said the government will begin shipping 500 million COVID-19 tests to Americans later this month without charge.

—Reuters

Is it time to end vaccine passports? Experts divided over whether they are still useful

Psychologist and McMaster University professor emeritus David Streiner is of two minds on vaccine passports.

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He’s willing to consider just about anything to convince people to get COVID shots, even charging the unvaccinated for hospital stays.

“But the passports? They may be a good stick,” he said, “but I’m not sure how effective they are for slowing transmission.” He worries, too, that passports are creating a “me-them” environment that could only grow worse if the pandemic persists. “We’ve seen it affecting families, splitting families apart.” Once vaccines became polarized, “all reason went out the window.”

The power of the vaccines always lay in the ability to prevent severe disease, hospitalization and death in vulnerable adults. The debate was, do they reduce the risk of transmission?

According to a new and not-yet peer-reviewed Canadian study, they do for a short period of time. But two doses are unlikely to protect against infection by Omicron. By six months after the second dose, “it kind of wanes down to, like, zero,” said lead author and Toronto family physician and epidemiologist Dr. Jeff Kwong.

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Read more HERE.

—Sharon Kirky

Canadian flights among those banned as Hong Kong reaffirms COVID-zero strategy

Hong Kong’s leader vowed to press on with her city’s COVID-zero strategy as she extended sweeping social-distancing measures and flight bans until after the Lunar New Year break, in a desperate bid to eliminate Omicron.

“We have to weigh these consequences against the health risks to the people of Hong Kong because these viruses could kill people,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a press briefing Friday. “Hundreds of people are still dying in every European country nowadays and I have to do my utmost duty to protect the health of the Hong Kong people.”

Lam extended the ban on evening dining-in services, as well as the closure of leisure venues such as bars, beaches, beauty parlors, for another two weeks until Feb. 3. The Asian financial hub will also maintain a block on passenger flights from Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the U.K. and the U.S. that has locked many residents out of the city until Feb. 4. A fifth round of financial relief totalling HK$3.57 billion (US$459 million) will be released for the hardest-hit industries, she said.

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—Bloomberg News

B.C. modelling shows Omicron wave of virus transmission on a downward trajectory

Despite a rapid spike in COVID-19 cases in B.C., transmission during this Omicron variant wave is likely on a downward trajectory, according to the province’s latest epidemiological modelling Friday.

The peak of transmission in most health regions may have occurred last week, the data show, but there continues to be a high number of new cases. The peak for the admissions to hospital is expected in the next week or two, and then it will probably be another two weeks before those hospitalization rates start to decline.

At a news conference Friday, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, said the next couple of weeks are going to be the most challenging on B.C.’s health care system.

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In the past week, there were 17,515 new cases, including 580 hospitalizations and 32 deaths. To date, there have been 291,246 cases, 13,768 hospitalized and 2,462 deaths from COVID-19.

Also, the data show hospitalizations for people over 70 have gone up during this Omicron surge, which is concerning for health officials who are trying to understand the reason for the increase. Even for those who are vaccinated, health officials say the risk for hospitalization is higher with age.



DEATHS BY HEALTH AUTHORITY


B.C. VACCINE TRACKER


WHAT’S HAPPENING ACROSS CANADA


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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