Province adds 375 cases, 7 deaths – .

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Province adds 375 cases, 7 deaths – .


Vancouver –

British Columbia has recorded 375 more cases of COVID-19 and seven related deaths, the government said on Wednesday as part of continued surveillance of the worrying new variant of Omicron.

The update, provided in a written statement from the Health Department, pushed the province’s seven-day average for infections to 353 per day, from 345 on Tuesday.

The number of active cases in British Columbia also increased, from 2,889 to 2,936, while the number of infectious COVID-19 patients in hospital remained relatively stable at 301. The number of these patients in intensive care fell to 98, marking the first time it has been below 100 since August 30.

The latest figures have been released as Canada’s federal and provincial governments prepare for the impact of the worrisome new variant of Omicron, which has already emerged in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.

Experts have noted that the variant has an alarming number of mutations, although it is not clear how they will affect transmissibility, disease severity and possible vaccine resistance.

Alberta confirmed two more cases of Omicron on Wednesday, while announcing expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine booster. British Columbia has previously said that the reminders, which are now given to certain vulnerable groups, will be made available to all adults in the new year.

British Columbia has so far confirmed only one case of Omicron, in a Lower Mainland resident who recently visited Nigeria. More than 200 other recent travelers to countries affected by Omicron have been identified and asked to self-isolate.

Although the government is monitoring additional cases with whole genome sequencing, it has not announced any province-specific measures in response to the emerging variant.

British Columbia health officials have urged residents to maintain their protective layers, including masks and hand washing, as the holiday season approaches, and only consider gathering together ‘inside with vaccinated people.

“If you have seniors or the elderly or people with compromised immune systems, we need to protect them during this high-risk transmission season,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday.

The federal government has already restricted travel from several southern African countries and announced increased testing requirements for air travelers.

Earlier this week, British Columbia began administering COVID-19 vaccines to children aged five to 11, and 2,789 have received their first dose so far. Authorities recently revealed that unvaccinated children under 12 made up about 20% of recent cases in the province, despite making up 10% of the population.

A total of 84.8% of eligible BC residents received at least one dose of the vaccine and 81.7% received two.

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