Omicron on downward trajectory in B.C. but not in Interior Health yet | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Omicron on downward trajectory in B.C. but not in Interior Health yet

Image Credit: PEXELS/Ivan Samkov

B.C.’s COVID curve is heading downwards, as it is in many other parts of the world.

But the impact of the Omicron variant has been uneven in B.C., hitting the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island first, representatives from provincial health authorities said during a COVID technical briefing today, Jan. 14.

Omicron arrived in the Interior Health region a little later so the case counts will likely go up for a week or so in the Interior before dropping off, the briefing information said.

Case counts are no longer a valid measure of the COVID pandemic because, especially in the Lower Mainland, there were not enough of the PCR tests available so many people had rapid tests with the results not being reported.

It’s estimated that the number of actual cases of COVID in B.C. is three to four times the numbers presenting during daily updates.

What is more relevant is the curve of infections over time and health officials are confident that the number of infections are truly dropping in B.C. as a whole.

There is about a week’s lag between the peak of infections and the peak of hospitalizations so the number of people in hospital with COVID will likely increase over the next week.

Many of those in hospital are infected with the Delta variant so they tend to be sicker and stay longer than those with the newer Omicron variant.

It will likely take about two weeks for the number of people in hospital who have COVID to begin declining.

The way the numbers of people in hospital with COVID is reported is going to change today as well. In the past, it didn’t include people who tested positive during an outbreak or people from outside the province. Starting today, the number will include everyone in hospital who tests positive for COVID.

Health authorities across the province are still trying to sort tracking systems to differentiate between those who are in hospital because of COVID verses those who only incidentally have COVID.

It’s estimated that 45% of those listed as being in hospital with COVID are not there because they are actually sick with COVID.

That ratio will be reported on a weekly basis.

What is clear is that those who are vaccinated are much less likely to need hospitalizations and intensive care treatment.

The exception is those over the age of 70 or people who are severely critically vulnerable.

Older people tend to have a weaker immune response to vaccinations and tend to have other underlying health conditions.

With so much of the Omicron variant circulating in B.C., they are at very high risk right now so they need to continue to take precautions against getting COVID.

Even those over 70 who have booster shots are not 100% protected.

The data shows that unvaccinated people in all age groups have 12 times the risk of being hospitalized if they get COVID, 27 times the risk of needing to go into intensive care units and almost 50 times the risk of dying from COVID.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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