Home Health COVID-19 New COVID public health orders start Dec 22

New COVID public health orders start Dec 22

No indoor organized gatherings of any size | Maximum 6 people per table at restaurants

Tuesday December 21, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

In response to the significant increase in COVID case counts, today Provincial Public Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry announced her newest set of Public Health Orders.

The new orders come into effect at 11:59 pm tomorrow — Wednesday December 22, 2021. They will be in effect right into the new year, and through to January 18, 2022.

New public health orders are accompanied with an accelerated roll-out of rapid antigen testing strategy now through January, as well as boosters (increased vaccination capacity and accelerated booster campaign for age-based population from January to March 2022).

The new orders:

  • No indoor organized gatherings of any size. Weddings, receptions, celebratory events, etc.
  • Bars and nightclubs closed.
  • Gyms and fitness centres closed, dance studios closed. Sports tournaments cancelled.
  • Seated events reduced to 50% capacity, regardless of venue size with vaccination checking, masking. Concerts, sports games, theatres, movie theatres, etc.
  • Maximum 6 per table at restaurants, pubs, cafes, etc. Plus physical distancing or barriers.
covid, public health orders
New Public Health Orders for December 22, 2021 through January 18, 2022. [BC Health]

Omicron vs Delta:

The current dominant variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (aka COVID-19) is Omicron. So far, public health can say that the Omicron variant is far more transmissible than the Delta variant. As one medical doctor said on national TV this evening: “Omicron has left Delta in the dust.”

The key difference about the infection is that Omicron multiplies in the nasal passages and upper respiratory tract, whereas the original SARS-CoV-2, then Alpha, Gamma and Delta aimed for deep lung tissue.

Dr Bonnie Henry, December 21 2021
Dr Bonnie Henry: everyone can expect to be exposed to COVID. [Dec 21, 2021]

People who are vaccinated (presently two doses has been considered to be ‘full vaccination’) are expected to have a less severe infection with Omicron compared to Delta.

As of today’s BC Centre for Disease Control stats, Omicron has been found in 756 test-positive cases of COVID, with the most in Island Health. Distribution of Omicron cases: Fraser Health 129, Vancouver Coastal 413, Interior 8, North 2, Island Health 204.

Most of us will be exposed:

Today Dr Henry said pretty much everyone can now expect to be exposed to the COVID virus, given the virulence of Omicron. COVID is here to stay.

Dr Henry hopes the human experience with COVID will reach the point of being endemic (something we live with) rather than being an out of control pandemic.

Vaccination, physical distancing, hand washing, as well as treatments for those who do become infection would be part of the ‘new normal’.

We can learn to live with the virus, with booster doses occasionally, said Dr Henry today.

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Vaccination centres:

In the new year mass immunization clinics will be opened again, as announced by Health Minister Adrian Dix today. That’s even with his report on Friday that 1,000 pharmacies would be offering COVID vaccines starting in January (up from 500 now).

In the Lower Mainland most people will need to make their way to the Vancouver Convention Centre in downtown Vancouver for their booster shot.

The province is challenged to spread their health-care workers around. Many are tired, some have quit due to fatigue. Some health-care workers from hospitals will be reassigned to the immunization clinics in January; some non-urgent scheduled surgeries will be posted starting January 4 to help facilitate this personnel shift.

COVID stats at December 21:

In BC: Highest one-day tally of cases today at 1,308 brings the total cases during the pandemic to 229,643. Currently there are 6,348 active cases (that’s up from 4,313 just a few days ago on Friday December 17). Currently 192 people are hospitalized with COVID (76 of those in ICU). Deaths stand at 2,403. To date, 107,203 doses of Pfizer pediatric vaccine have been administered to children ages 5 to 11 in BC.

COVID, vancouver island
Daily cases in Island Health pandemic-to-date, at Dec 21, 2021. [BC CDC]

In Island Health: Highest one-day tally of cases today at 202, bringing the total cases pandemic-to-date to 14,969. Currently there are 1,116 active cases (that’s up from 975 before the weekend on December 17, 2021). Currently 40 people are hospitalized with COVID (15 of those in ICU). Deaths stand at 136 (14 of those just this month). To date, 19,102 doses of Pfizer pediatric vaccine have been administered to children ages 5 to 11 in Island Health.

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===== RELATED:

Vancouver Island COVID profile at Dec 20 (December 20, 2021)

Strong BC vaccination effort for kids 5 to 11 (December 17, 2021)

Omicron mid-Dec: three COVID updates this week (December 16, 2021)