Special weather statements, warning of rain, snow, and arctic air, have been posted for Metro Vancouver and other areas of the south coast. Environment Canada says, “A weather system will arrive over the south coast in the overnight hours tonight and remain in the region through Sunday. The system will bring rain mixed with snow for areas closer to the water and snow for inland areas and higher terrain.
B-C’s seniors advocate is calling on the province to make COVID-19 rapid tests widely available for people to use before visiting loved ones at high risk of severe illness. They also want the government to reduce the requirement that at least six months must pass between someone’s second dose of vaccine and their booster dose. Provincial officials had announced plans earlier this week to expand the availability of rapid tests and booster shots starting next month.
People in B.C. who cross the U.S. land border for less than 24 hours to do things like grocery shop or fill their tanks up with gas will not have to show a negative COVID-19 PCR test in order to get back into Canada. The exemption was announced by Canada Border Services Agency yesterday, the day after a nationwide exemption for short, cross-border trips came to an end. CBSA suggests the “significant damage and upheaval” caused by flooding and landslides in November is the reason for the provincial exception.
Unlike gyms, B.C.’s public pools haven’t been ordered to close but some Metro Vancouver cities will require proof of vaccination for swimmers with new COVID-19 restrictions. Abbotsford, Langley Township, Maple Ridge and Richmond have all made the move to require proof of vaccination for swimming in light of ramped-up restrictions — going beyond what is required by the Provincial Health Order on vaccine cards. Surrey, hasn’t announced any changes at pools.
Mounties in Surrey say a 25-year-old man is facing 14 charges following an investigation into alleged sexual offences involving minors. R-C-M-P say the charges against Paul Atanassov include sexual assault, possession of child pornography, making or publishing child pornography, sexual interference of a person under 16 and telecommunication to lure a child under 16. Atanassov has been released on strict conditions that include a curfew, not having contact with or being in the presence of anyone under the age of 16 and a ban on accessing the internet. Police released a photo of him, saying they believe there may be further witnesses with information that may help their investigation
British Columbia broke its one-day record for new COVID-19 infections for the third day in a row Thursday, with officials announcing 2,046 new cases. The latest infections bring the total number of recorded cases in the province to 233,217. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said that there are 8,739 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. Of the active cases, 195 individuals are currently hospitalized and 75 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: 741 new cases, 2,825 total active cases
- Vancouver Coastal Health: 880 new cases, 3,729 total active cases
- Interior Health: 123 new cases, 699 total active cases
- Northern Health: 53 new cases, 217 total active cases
- Island Health: 248 new cases, 1,267 total active cases
- Outside of Canada: One new case, two total active cases
There have been 975 cases of the Omicron variant of concern confirmed in BC, broken down as follows:
- Fraser Health: 221
- Vancouver Coastal Health: 496
- Interior Health: 19
- Northern Health: four
- Island Health: 235
There has also been one new death over the past 24 hours in Island Health, for a total of 2,410. To date, 87.7% (4,372,428) of eligible people five and older in B.C. have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 82.7% (4,124,437) have received their second dose. From December 15 to 21, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 24.8% of cases, and from December 8 to December 21, they accounted for 68.6% of hospitalizations.
Canada has met its ambitious immigration targets for the year, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government’s goal was to add 401-thousand new permanent residents. Some have been temporary residents allowed to make the country their permanent home because of pandemic-related restrictions at the border. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser says that approach will likely continue, even after the pandemic has ebbed away. The government plans to increase its immigration target to 411-thousand next year.
A 29-year-old Chilliwack man has been charged with break and enter at Abbotsford-area homes that were damaged by destructive flooding in the Sumas Prairie region. Abbotsford police say the investigation began earlier this month and a person of interest was identified. The man was arrested yesterday and charged with four counts of break and enter. Police say some stolen property has been recovered and returned to homeowners.
Metro Vancouver residents could see a rare white Christmas followed by cold temperatures as Environment Canada says arctic air will make its way south. The weather office says temperatures across the south coast are expected to be well below seasonal through the end of the month, including the Lower Mainland, Howe Sound and Whistler, the Sunshine Coast and parts of Vancouver Island. It warns of the risk of frostbite across inland areas of the north coast, including Terrace and Kitimat, as arctic outflows could push the wind chill below minus 30. Heavy snow was expected to continue before tapering off tomorrow along high-elevation routes across the southern Interior, from the Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Merritt to Highway 3 in the Kootenays.
A serious crash closed a stretch of Highway 99 in south Surrey this afternoon. The Mounties say their criminal collision investigation team has been called to determine what led to the two-vehicle crash shortly after 1 p-m. They say one male driver was taken to hospital in critical condition, while a second was being treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Anyone with dash camera footage or who witnessed the crash in the southbound lanes near 32nd Avenue is asked to contact police.
University of British Columbia researchers say they’ve completed an analysis of the rapidly spreading Omicron (OH’-mih-kron) variant of COVID-19, revealing key information about why it’s so infectious. Sriram Subramaniam with the department of biochemistry and molecular biology says it has 37 mutations — three to five times more than any other variant so far. He says that means Omicron is very effective at evading the binding of antibodies that can neutralize and block its entry into cells, while at the same time it retains the ability to bind with receptors that transport it inside cells — a combination of characteristics that makes the variant particularly transmissible. The research released last week is awaiting peer review.