British Columbia contact tracing and testing at full capacity, health officials say

British Columbia public health officials have said contact tracing and testing sites are at full capacity as the province goes through its worst COVID-19 wave to date, mostly due to the Omicron variant most infectious of the novel coronavirus.

Health officials on Thursday announced 2,046 new cases of COVID-19, along with one additional death. This is the third day in a row the province has reported a record number of daily cases. Prior to this week, the highest daily total was 1,293 cases, reported in April. Friday’s figures will be released later today.

“If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19… you should assume you have COVID and take steps to avoid transmitting it,” Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said at a press conference Friday.

“Omicron is different… in a way, we’re in a different game.”

Henry said the tests should be available for those most at risk as well as for healthcare workers who need negative tests to work.

She therefore urged residents of British Columbia not to request a travel test and to be proactive in isolating themselves if they suspect they have COVID-19.

Those who are fully vaccinated, who are not immunocompromised, and have mild symptoms, should self-isolate for a week. Those who are not fully vaccinated should self-isolate for 10 days.

Close contacts should self-monitor for symptoms for two weeks, in the absence of contact tracing, and close unvaccinated contacts should self-isolate for 10 days.

The provincial death toll from COVID-19 is now 2,410 lives lost out of 233,217 confirmed cases.

Sorting performed on long test lines

The province performed 20,133 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on Thursday, the most recorded in a single day in British Columbia, according to Health Minister Adrian Dix.

With long queues at testing sites, officials said a ‘triage’ was taking place at authorities in Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health, with some of those seeking a PCR test being administered instead. a rapid antigen test.

“If you are younger and you don’t have any underlying risk factors, especially if you are vaccinated, rapid tests may be the most effective way for you to get what you need,” Henry said.

The elderly and those who are immunocompromised, as well as young children, now have priority for PCR testing, the gold standard for confirming or ruling out infection.

Health Minister Adrian Dix has championed the province’s age-based strategy for deploying booster doses.

People in their 60s across the province are encouraged to book their third injection six months after their second dose, as are those who are clinically vulnerable.

British Columbia’s Health Minister Adrian Dix praised the efforts of healthcare workers as the province’s tests reach full capacity. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

“Our deployment continues to be robust,” said Dix. “Twenty percent of the eligible population [has] already received their third dose. “

A total of 147,371 vaccines are expected to be administered between Dec. 22 and Jan. 2, according to Dix, and he urged anyone who has received an invitation to reserve their vaccines.

Current COVID-19 restrictions

Henry revealed the latest set of public health orders at a press conference on Tuesday.

They include:

  • No indoor gatherings of any size including weddings, receptions and parties.
  • Bars and nightclubs closed.
  • Maximum of six people per table in a restaurant, pub or cafe.
  • Gyms, fitness centers and dance classes for adults must be closed.
  • Seated events like concerts, sports games and cinemas are reduced to 50 percent of their capacity.

Pools can continue to operate, but staff must scan QR codes of proof of vaccination before allowing users to enter. Hotel swimming pools are exempt.

Personal gatherings are always limited to your household plus 10 guests or one additional household. Everyone in the household should be vaccinated.

The new rules do not include restrictions on travel in British Columbia before Christmas. The province has stressed the need to balance the mental health of families with reducing the spread of the virus.