Tuesday, December 21, 2021

A call to keep our Holiday gatherings small ... Closures of bars, gyms among new measures as Omicron becomes dominant COVID virus in British Columbia

Two Ministers with the British Columbia government and Public Health Officer Doctor Bonnie Henry provided for the latest blue print on COVID heading into the holiday season, with Dr. Henry relaying a range of new measures mostly designed for larger gathering venue closures and a call to be cautious this holiday season.

The 1:30 PM information session was led off by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, who delivered a weather forecast, an advisory to stay off the roads and some highlights of the province's work on homeless shelters. 

All of it making for an interesting approach to a prologue for the main event, though one that perhaps could have been provided as part of a separate briefing on public safety themes, the Deputy Premier making more for a delay in the mind of many viewing at home this afternoon.

For the main event, Doctor Henry as part of her portion of the presentation outlined some thoughts that serve as the guiding thinking for this time of the pandemic.

"Our storm of COVID-19 is not yet over, we are in a different boat but the consequences of not preparing for what is happening now in our global community is just too great ... we are in a very uncertain time we will be learning more about what Omicron  ... there is much we will learn in the next few weeks" 

She then observed of the changing nature of the Omicron variant and its rapid spread around the world and concerning situation in the province.

After twenty minutes or so of data interpretation, case count updates and other themes on the COVID work to date, Doctor Henry then relayed the scope of the newest measures and guidance for British Columbians over the holiday season.

As for our Christmas gatherings, the advice is to keep those get togethers as small as possible and stick to one familiar collection of members, rather than to expand your social circle at this time.

Towards that guidance the personal gathering orders of Friday remain, with Doctor Henry observing  that they are the maximum amount for members at gatherings.

“I know everyone is looking forward to being around their family and friends this holiday season after two challenging years. These restrictions balance the need for people to come together with the people they love with the need to collectively act to slow the spread of COVID-19. We know how to get through this – by following the same measures we’ve followed in the past to protect each other.” -- Doctor Bonnie Henry

Of note in the volume of data interpretation was that the Northern Region is still showing low numbers for the moment in the amount of Omicron variant cases, though expressing the need for caution. 

The Lower Mainland region and Vancouver Island currently show the highest level of case positivity. 

Health Minister Adrian Dix outlined the plans towards delivering booster shots for the province, noting of an expansion towards pharmacies to help get more vaccines into arms in the weeks and months to come. 

The Minister highlighted that the province will be continuing on with an age and needs bases approach to the roll out of the Booster shot program, calling back to the success of the mass vaccination programs of the first two shots of earlier this year.

"Our immunization rollout continues to be based on risk. With priority given as I said,  to the clinically extremely vulnerable, to long term care and we've seen its positive impact there, to Seniors, to Indigenous adults and to health care workers and to those who have been given two doses of Astra-Zenca. And this age based roll out will be continue at an accelerated pace, with invites sent out and appointments guaranteed"

As for the testing program, Doctor Henry offered up some directions towards the end of the information session, noting that if you have mild symptoms, to self isolate rather than seek out testing,  

The government plans to introduce more guidance on self care and when to go for medical help over the next few days.

The full statement can be reviewed here.

The range of Public Health Orders in effect as of midnight tomorrow can be reviewed here.

The video of today's full information session is below:

The next update on the case count of COVID in the province comes later this afternoon, you can follow how the path has progressed through the year from our archive page here.

A wider overview of media notes on the provinces handling of COVID measures from our D'Arcy McGee blog.

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