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Island reports 412 new cases and two more COVID-related deaths

The province now has 36,049 active cases — up from 31,817 a week ago, although the new daily case count is down from 3,223 on Jan. 7.
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Daily case counts include those who have tested positive with a standard PCR test or reported the results of a rapid test, but far more people are presumed infected. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML

B.C. is reporting 2,554 new cases of COVID-19, including 412 in the Island Health region, which now has 3,193 active cases.

The province now has 36,049 active cases — up from 31,817 a week ago, although the new daily case count is down from 3,223 on Jan. 7.

The Omicron variant is so highly transmissible, with an incubation period of just three days, that testing centres with a capacity to process 20,000 tests a day in the province have been overwhelmed.

Those with mild illness have been advised to assume they have the virus and isolate for at least five days until symptoms abate, and 10 days if they’re not vaccinated. Daily case counts include those who have tested positive with a standard PCR test or reported the results of a rapid test, but far more people are presumed infected.

Across the province there are now 534 individuals in hospital with COVID-19, including 102 in intensive care. That’s up sharply from 324 in hospital and 90 in intensive care a week ago.

The province also reported another seven deaths on Thursday, including two in Island Health, for a total of 2,462 since the pandemic began.

Island Health is also home to two of five new health-care facility outbreaks reported Thursday — Dufferin Place in Nanaimo and Beacon Hill Villa — while an outbreak at Aberdeen Hospital on Hillside Avenue has been declared over. There are now 53 facilities with ongoing outbreaks in B.C.

As of Thursday, 83 per cent of people age five and older eligible for COVID vaccines have been fully immunized, while 89 per cent of those age 12 and older have been fully vaccinated. Thirty-one per cent of eligible adults have had booster shots.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said Omicron is infecting both vaccinated and previously infected people, but that vaccination remains the best defence against serious illness, hospitalization and death.

Those who are vaccinated and partially vaccinated — who make up the large majority of British Columbians — are also among the majority of those testing positive for COVID and ending up in hospital. Seniors and those with compromised immune systems are still vulnerable to the Omicron variant. But after adjusting for age, those who are not vaccinated make up the majority of hospitalizations.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com