On Wednesday, December 29, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix were joined by Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside for a live COVID-19 briefing – the first of its kind since Christmas Eve. Dr. Bonnie Henry said that in the past 24 hours, the province has recorded 2,944 new COVID-19 cases. “Omicron has left us with more questions than answers,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry. “But it also is different and it’s spreading through our communities in a way that is different from other variants that we’ve seen over the past two years.”
“People are getting infected with a much smaller dose of the virus, and much more quickly, and they’re passing it on to others often before they realize that they’re able to transmit it.”
“The rate of transmission has impacted a number of different parts of our system that we’ve had in place including the effectiveness of contact tracing.” A complete reporting of the most up-to-date COVID-19 data in the province is expected to be released this afternoon. More to come…
Multiple provinces continue to smash previous daily case count records as the COVID-19 Omicron (OH’-mih-kron) variant rips across the country. Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, B-C and Quebec set records, with Ontario reporting 10-thousand, 436 new infections and Quebec more than 13-thousand. Alberta’s active case count has more than doubled in a week. Chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw is urging Albertans to follow public health measures, stay home if they are sick and get vaccinated against COVID-19 with all three shots to slow the growth of Omicron. Some provinces are delaying students’ return to school.
A gold medal winning performance at the Tokyo Olympics has earned Canada’s women’s soccer team the honour of being The Canadian Press team of the year. It was a landslide win — with the team taking 38 out of 44 votes in the survey of sports editors, writers and broadcasters. Manager Bev Priestman says she hopes that winning Olympic gold will inspire children to take up soccer.
More than a year after the vaccine was rolled out, new cases of COVID-19 in the U-S have soared to their highest level on record at over 265-thousand per day on average. The surge has been driven largely by the highly contagious Omicron variant. The number of Americans now in the hospital with COVID-19 is running at around 60-thousand, or about half the figure seen last January.
BC’s top doctor has announced a phased-in approach for the return to class next week, amid record cases of the Omicron variant in the province. Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a news conference Wednesday while the children of essential workers will return on January 4, the remainder of students will go back to class on Monday, January 10. BC Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside joined Dr. Henry to expand on the announcement. She spoke of the importance of face-to-face learning and says the primary goal of the province is to keep kids learning in-person through the remainder of the school year. Staff will return to school January 4, with Whiteside saying this will give teachers and staff time to implement new safety measures. “We are setting up our schools for the best possible start,” says Whiteside. Schools will be open for students whose parents are healthcare workers and for students who have support needs and require care. Whiteside adds the next week will be used to implement safety plans and workplace needs. “Our efforts are truly focused on working to reduce disruption and absenteeism in our schools.” The BC Teachers’ Federation says it is pleased with a phased-in approach, but is disappointed booster shots won’t be prioritized for educators. One tweet from BCTF read, “We were disappointed that the announcement offered no indication that boosters will be fast-tracked for #BCed, nor did Minister Whiteside commit to making N95 masks available in schools or proactively addressing the outstanding ventilation concerns in many schools.” Only a few hours earlier, BC Teachers’ Federation President Teri Mooring told Daily Hive that it’s a stressful time for teachers in the province. “Teachers have been dealing with a lot in schools, trying to keep students safe without feeling like there are adequate safety measures in place. With the way that Omicron transmits…it’s very disconcerting,” she said. “Quickly, Omicron is transmitting, so it’s critical that teachers get some planning time at the start of January in order to implement some of the additional safety measures that we’ve been talking about with the ministry over the course of the of the winter break here,” adds Mooring. The BCTF had outlined several safety measures that they wanted to see happen, including prioritizing teachers for booster shots, providing N95 masks, and addressing concerns about air ventilation and filtration in schools.