Vancouver Island adds 68 new COVID-19 cases; 'no evidence' of Omicron variant in B.C.
Health officials in British Columbia identified 68 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Friday.
The new cases were among 341 cases identified across the province over the past 24 hours.
There are currently 3,035 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C., including 448 active cases in the Island Health region, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control.
Island Health data identified the locations of 401 active cases Friday, including 92 in the South Island, 202 in the Central Island and 107 in the North Island.
Six COVID-19-related deaths were reported in B.C. on Friday. None of the deaths were in the Vancouver Island region. Three deaths were in the Fraser Health region, two were in Vancouver Coastal Health and one was in Northern Health.
Since the pandemic began, 2,322 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C. including, 119 deaths in the island region.
There are currently 51 people in hospital for treatment of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island, including 15 patients who require critical care.
NO EVIDENCE OF NEW VARIANT IN B.C.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said there was no indication Friday that a new coronavirus variant of concern (VOC), known as Omicron, had made its way to the province.
"At this time, there is no evidence that this variant has been introduced into British Columbia," Dix and Henry said in a statement.
"The BC Centre for Disease Control’s public health lab has sequenced over 90,000 virus isolates in B.C. and will continue to use whole genome sequencing to monitor for all variants circulating in B.C., including this new VOC Omicron," they added.
The health officials said they support the federal government's decision Friday to temporarily block travellers from entering Canada from southern Africa, where the new variant was first reported.
"We support the measures taken today by the federal government in response to the newly identified variant of concern, Omicron," Dix and Henry said. "We do not yet know the impact this new VOC will have on transmission or of severity of illness, but taking this immediate precautionary action is prudent. We will continue to closely monitor developments around the world."
Approximately 91 per cent of eligible British Columbians have now received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 87.6 per cent have received two doses.