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Active COVID-19 cases surpass 20,000 in B.C. for the first time

New infections remain around 4,000 cases daily, numbers show
B.C. reported 3,795 new cases of COVID-19 on Dec. 31, 2021.

B.C.’s new COVID-19 infections failed to break another daily record on Friday — but the case numbers remain elevated with the Omicron variant’s spread.

The province reported 3,795 new COVID cases in the last 24 hours, down from the 4,383 cases reported just one day ago. However, the new case number Friday is still higher than that of any other day since the pandemic started in B.C. in March 2020.

With the new cases, the number of active COVID infections in B.C. surpassed the 20,000-mark for the first time. There are now 20,811 active cases in the province.

Of those, 220 people are hospitalized, with the number of patients in intensive care again inching upwards to 73. There have been also three new deaths from the disease — one each at Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Health and Island Health — bringing the total death toll to 2,423.

The new case count continues to skyrocket in the Fraser Health region, where another 1,944 infections bring the total active COVID cases there to 9,050. Meanwhile, numbers are also again close to 1,000 new cases in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, with 965 new infections reported in the last day. There are now 7,135 active cases there.

Island Health (434 new cases, 2,336 active), Interior Health (320, 1,792) and Northern Health (129, 494) round out the new numbers for the last 24-hour period.

The numbers coincide with the day where provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the return of visitor restrictions to long-term care homes to essential visits only; the latest data shows outbreaks at health-care facilities continue to rise.

Two more such facilities — Kopernik Lodge in Vancouver Coastal Health and Amica Douglas House in Island Health — have been added to the list of B.C. facilities with ongoing COVID outbreaks. That brings the number of total outbreaks in the province back up to 15, including eight long-term care, two acute care and one assisted-living facility.

Friday also saw the province announce two other major COVID-related moves: Shortening the amount of self-isolation time for vaccinated people who test positive without symptoms to five days, as well as the ramp-up of booster shots to people who had their last vaccine shot six months ago.

Henry urged people to book boosters as soon as they become available, since officials say the vaccines — while prone to occasional breakthrough infections from the Omicron variant — dramatically lowers the likelihood of serious symptoms and the need for hospitalization.

Provincial data shows that, over the last two weeks, the cases where a COVID infection led to hospitalization (per 100,000 people in B.C.) were 22.2 for non-vaccinated people, 2.2 for partially vaccinated people and 1.7 for the fully vaccinated.

Overall, over the past week, cases of infection (again per 100,000 people in B.C.) were 401.9 for the non-vaccinated, 101.9 for the partially vaccinated and 325.8 for the fully vaccinated.