Home Health COVID-19 Dix: don’t travel as Omicron gains traction, rapid tests coming, register kids...

Dix: don’t travel as Omicron gains traction, rapid tests coming, register kids for COVID shots

adrian dix, health minister
BC Health Minister Adrian Dix: due to COVID spread, don't travel abroad this Christmas season, or even within Canada. [Dec 15, 2021]

Wednesday December 15, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC

by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends

ADVISORY: Next COVID update will be on Friday December 17, 2021 at 1 pm.

In a hastily-called press conference (2:20 pm notice for 4 pm, including livestream), today Health Minister Adrian Dix addressed two key issues that he was getting inquiries about today.

He started by agreeing with the strong federal recommendation (which Premier John Horgan issued a statement on around 3 pm today) that people not undertake any non-essential travel this holiday season. The health risk (to self and others) as the COVID Omicron variant rapid spreads is not worth it by travelling at this time, he stated.

Rapid tests:

Dix also addressed the media challenge (presumably reflecting public angst) that the availability of the COVID ‘rapid tests’ for use at home are not coming fast enough. He emphasized that none of the 24 rapid test kits that are licenced for use in Canada are on-label for use at home. He stressed how BC is aiming for effectiveness and accuracy of any such tests that are used.

Taking things in a different direction that what Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry said yesterday, now Dix says that BC is in fact reviewing the possibility of changing public health orders around gatherings (and travel) during this Christmas holiday season.

“At-home tests are not yet available widely in Canada,” Dix said. Even of the rapid tests that will be coming in January (supplied by the federal government), a “small sub-set” of them will be for at-home use, he said.

The health-care system is clearly operating under stressed conditions, if not near maximum capacity in many ways. There might be bed spaces but health-care workers have been handling the stressful COVID scenario up-close for now 21 months and they’re tired.

Dix reiterated Dr Henry’s remarks yesterday about following all public health measures this holiday season, to use “caution in everything we do”.

Provinces get supplies (of vaccines, tests, etc) from the federal government on a population basis. Dix says that’s about 13.5 percent of Canada’ supply coming to BC.

Young children getting vaccinated:

Because children ages 5 to 11 years were left til last in the vaccination queue (while trials were done, and approval by Health Canada awaited), until recently that group remained entirely unvaccinated. The first shots went into young children’s arms starting December 4. (Youth age 12+ have been able to get vaccinated since May of this year.)

Dix encourages parents to get their children registered for the pediatric dose (one-third the amount of the adult dose), if they haven’t already.

The 7,000 children age 5 to 11 who’ve received their first COVID vaccine dose so far represent 22 percent of that age group. Bookings have been made by 37 percent of that age group, and 42 percent are registered. Dix says “we need to get those numbers up”.