Friday, December 17, 2021

Province returns to some previous measures as Ominous Omicron rises to rattle British Columbians through the holiday season

Just when we thought we may be sneaking away from  grasp of COVID, it comes around to reel us back in and just in time to make for  concerns over the Holiday season. 

This latest variant of note, Omicron is raising alarms across the Globe, with Canadian provinces today announcing a range of new, or a return to old measures of just months past, all as health officials try to keep ahead of the quickly spreading cases.

This afternoon, it was the turn for British Columbia to reveal their plans towards the new variant and while there are some changes coming  to gatherings and such to take effect as of Monday. 

Tthe measures introduced so far, are not considered quite as draconian as many had feared would be announced.

In a near ninety minute information session, the provincial Public Health Officer Doctor Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix charted the course of the measures that will be in place over the Holiday period and beyond.

"As we have all seen in recent weeks, the newest variant, the Omicron variant of concern, is adding new and more complex challenges to our pandemic and we are no exception here in British Columbia ... It is moving quickly and so must we. 

This is of course not where we want to be, we were making good progress, we had turned the corner of the wave that we've been dealing with here in BC. But it is the reality of where we are. 

And right now we need to slow the spread And ensure that our health care system and our communities are protected"

Noting of how fast the Omicron virus can spread, the Doctor observed that at the moment the virus is spreading among young people who are in more connected through social settings and that to this point the impacts on them are more of a mild illness and not severe.

Dr Henry also observed how the current situation could be related to the volume of British Columbians in that age group being vaccinated, but noting how the concern for spread is still a large concern moving forward.

The key element that was once again stressed, as it has been throughout the pandemic since a COVID vaccine became available was for British Columbians to get vaccinated, the vaccine they observe one which so far has reduced the severe elements of the virus in those who contract it.

"One of the things that we also know is that if you are not yet vaccinated, if you do not have that protection that vaccination gives, this virus is spreading and more and more people are infected you are at risk. 

Now is the tine to get vaccinated, this virus will find you. 

We need to get vaccinated as soon as possible, without a vaccine you are at higher risk of serious illness and hospitalization, We know now with this strain that even I you are fully vaccinated you can get infected, but it is a milder illness for most of those people"

Towards those vaccinations, the province is moving to add more invitations to the vaccination program, with British Columbians to be advised of their opportunity to book an appointment through the options they made use of in the COVID shot rollout of earlier this year.

Health Minister Adrian Dix spoke to the hard work on vaccination in the province, with a particular look at Northern BC as part of today's information session.

"This is particularly true with growing vaccinations in the Northern Health Authority, which has seen it's vaccinations in combination with the First Nations Health Authority, in communities across Northern BC increase significantly in the last number of weeks. 

I want to encourage people in Northern BC, if they are eligible to be vaccinated, to book appointments. 

There are currently 1800 pharmacy appointments currently posted across Northern Health Authority, only 450 bookings have been made for the next two weeks and we can, I believe move to fill those up in this next period and again advance our immunization effort.

As well, efforts are going to be made, every effort is going to be made to ensure that there are many opportunities through this Christmas period to get vaccinated in every part of BC and that work is being done now" 

For the most part the changes and revisions to the Public Health Orders are related to moves towards limits on public gatherings and a focus on vaccine card enforcement and perhaps  some of which will even impact on some of your social plans over the holiday period. The will take place as of Monday morning.

You can review the the background to the decisions and return of measures here.

The list of Public Health measures now in effect can be explored here.

The Full presentation, along with a range of media questions can be reviewed below:

The latest COVID data will be released this afternoon, you can review those notes and examine the BC COVID Dashboard later today, you can access those findings from our archive page here.

Updates specific to Northern health can be found here.

More notes on Northern Health in the Northwest can be reviewed here.

We also update the national and provincial themes on COVID through our archives on our political blog D'Arcy McGee.

Victoria Viewpoints

Ottawa Observations 

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