Northern Health Eases Up On COVID Rules As Ultra-Contagious Omicron Hits BC

The health authority says case counts are improving.

It all seems a little bit confusing.

Right at the moment that the ultra-contagious Omicron variant has first been detected in B.C., Northern Health is easing up on rules meant to stop the spread of COVID.

Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed this week that a person infected with the variant is self-isolating in the Fraser Valley after having travelled abroad. 

“​​We must anticipate and plan for the worst, even as we hope that this strain will not cause the havoc we have seen with some others,” she said.

Scientists are scrambling to learn more information about Omicron.  

Dr. Michelle Groome, head of public health surveillance at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Disease is quoted in Bloomberg today as saying that “we are starting to see this move into the older age groups.” She adds, “We are also expecting that the more severe complications may not present themselves for a few weeks.”

“[S]everal red flags suggest that this strain of the coronavirus could quickly cause surges in many parts of the world and could be the most contagious one known,” NPR reports

How Omicron compares with other COVID-19 variants. Source: WHO (Nov 29, 2021) / Aljazeera

However, Northern Health is at this moment relaxing a health order for the Skeena and other northern regions.

From a Northern Health Media Bulletin issued Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The updated order will be in effect until January 31, 2022, and allows the number of fully-vaccinated people to gather inside private homes to rise from 5 to 10, and the number gathering outside to go from 15 to 25. 

Weddings, funerals, theatre and other events can increase their capacity to 50 percent, when previously it was capped at 50 vaccinated people. 

“Gradual improvement in case counts and hospitalizations are allowing for some increased capacity at gathering and events, for those who are fully vaccinated,” Northern Health explains.

But some restrictions still remain. “Those restrictions include that bars and nightclubs remain closed, restaurants must continue to end their liquor service at 10 p.m. and no in-person worship services are allowed,” the Times Colonist reports.

Written by The Skeena

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