Seven more people have died of COVID-19 in B-C, bringing the death toll to two-thousand, 462. It says there are two-thousand, 554 new infections in the province, 534 people are in hospital and 102 are in intensive care. Five more health-care centres in the province have reported outbreaks, raising the total number to 53. The Health Ministry says 90 per cent of all eligible adults have received two vaccine shots, while 31.2 per cent have had a booster dose.
The first week of class for most students in B.C. under new Omicron protocols comes to a close today, with four schools temporarily shuttered due to functional closures. While they make up a small percentage of the overall number of schools in B.C., there are still worries about what’s to come. Two additional schools — Heritage Park in Mission and Armstrong Elementary in the North Okanagan — were forced to close for the time being as of Friday morning. They join Hazelton Secondary School and Surrey’s Bibleway Academy in not being able to operate due to a shortage of staff.
The R-C-M-P is asking the public’s help in finding an inmate who escaped from the Surrey Pre-trial Services Centre around noon yesterday. Police say Mustafa Sa’Ada is a 32-year-old, 5-foot-8 Middle Eastern man with a slim build. They say he was wearing a grey sweater, dark brown and grey pants, and one white shoe. Sa’Ada was in custody for robbery and police say he has a history of violent offences, so they’re asking the public to call 911 if they see him.
B-C Emergency Health Services says paramedics responded to nearly 100 overdoses a day in 2021. The agency released a report that says every health region in the province reported a rise in the volume of overdose calls last year. The Ambulance Paramedics of B-C is calling for more mental health and addiction resources for the public in an effort to relieve some of the pressure on first responders.
Applications are now open for the B.C. COVID-19 Relief Grant for businesses ordered to close by the public health office. Eligible businesses include bars, nightclubs, lounges, yoga and pilates studios, gyms and event venues that had to fully close due to the Dec. 22 public health order. Business owners can receive a one-time grant ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 depending on the number of employees or contracted staff.
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the latest federal government modelling suggests COVID-19 hospitalizations will continue to surge in the weeks ahead. Tam says the Omicron variant is driving hospital admissions to the point they will far exceed previous historical peaks due to the sheer number of cases. She is suggesting the Omicron variant will peak later this month at as many as 300-thousand cases per day. But Tam says case counts are vastly underestimating the true numbers.
British Columbia health officials announced on Thursday that there have been 2,275 new COVID-19 cases reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the province to 293,521. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said that there are 35,943 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. Of the active cases, 646 (+112) COVID-positive individuals are currently hospitalized, a new record for BC, and 97 (-5) are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.
New cases and total active cases are broken down by health region as follows:
- Fraser Health: 813 new cases, 17,256 total active cases
- Vancouver Coastal Health: 523 new cases, 9,397 total active cases
- Interior Health: 412 new cases, 4,916 total active cases
- Northern Health: 227 new cases, 1,346 total active cases
- Island Health: 297 new cases, 3,016 total active cases
- Outside of Canada: Three new cases, 12 total active cases
There have been six new COVID-19-related deaths in British Columbia, for a total of 2,468 deaths in the province.
British Columbia says adults will no longer need the confirmation of a doctor or psychologist to change their gender marker on provincial identification cards. Grace Lore, parliamentary secretary for gender equity, says the change will reduce a barrier that two-spirit, transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse people face when trying to change their identification documents. Youth between the ages of 12 and 19 must provide proof of support from a parent or guardian, while confirmation from a physician or psychologist is still required for children aged 11 and younger.
The monthly cost attached to binge-watching your favourite Netflix show is going up. Netflix is raising prices by one- to two-dollars for customers in the U-S and Canada, depending on the plan. The boost comes less than a year and a half since its last price increase. Netflix got an influx of global subscribers during the pandemic but is investing in video games as it looks beyond movies and T-V for growth.
Vancouver Coastal Health says it has prevented recent attempts to fraudulently obtain B-C vaccine cards. It says “vulnerable people” in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside have been approached and offered payment to get vaccinated while falsely using that person’s name and information. The health authority says fraudulent vaccination records are being removed from the provincial immunization registry and the cards are being revoked. It says future instances of fraud will be brought to police.
The B-C government has announced an increase of 2.35-million dollars in annual funding to improve crisis line services in the province. It says that will help add more responders to answer calls, provide standardized training, and upgrade and improve technology. The government has also tabbed the Provincial Health Services Authority to oversee crisis line services and work with providers to transition to a single service contract for each health authority. It says that will create a more co-ordinated provincial system and more reliable crisis line services when demand is rising due the toxic drug crisis, the pandemic and unprecedented emergencies like recent floods.