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Half of B.C. Omicron cases are on the Island

With 137 new COVID-19 cases reported in Island Health on Thursday, the total number of active cases is now 905.
Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at LifeLabs. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

More than half the cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in B.C. are on Vancouver Island — 71 of 135.

That’s a sharp increase from the 15 cases reported on Tuesday in Island Health. The variant is more transmissible than the Delta variant that has been dominant in B.C.

There were 38 Omicron cases detected in Fraser Health, 20 in Vancouver Coastal, five in Interior Health and one in Northern Health.

At last count, 137 cases of COVID-19 on the Island were related to University of ­Victoria off-campus parties and the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship held Nov. 24-28 at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., which was attended by the UVic Vikes men’s rugby team.

Of those UVic-related cases, 15 were ­Omicron. Island Health was not able to answer Thursday whether these 15 cases are responsible for the mushrooming of Omicron on the Island.

Across B.C., 753 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Thursday, for a total of 3,878 active cases. Of those, 184 people are in hospital, including 70 in intensive care.

With 137 new COVID-19 cases reported in Island Health on Thursday, the total number of active cases is now 905. Thursday’s new-case total is slightly below the peak of 143 cases reported on Dec. 10. Forty people are in hospital, including seven in critical care.

There has been another death on the Island related to COVID-19 — one of three reported in the province on Thursday, for a total of 2,396 since the pandemic began.

From Dec. 1 to 14, people who are not fully vaccinated accounted for 70 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to the province. Of eligible people age five and older in B.C., 82.5 per cent or 4.1 million are fully vaccinated. Fifteen per cent have received a third dose.

Premier John Horgan advised British Columbians on Wednesday to avoid non-essential travel outside the country.

Health Minister Adrian Dix suggested avoiding domestic travel as well. Dix said the province will consider capacity limits on large indoor events as COVID-19 cases rise.

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