“The virus has changed and is spreading rapidly.”
That was how the provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, began today’s update, noting that 80% of all new cases are the Omicron variant (except in the North, for now). Vaccinations help in terms of stunting the impact of illness, meaning those who get ill with this variant of COVID are likely to have lesser symptoms, provided they’ve been fully immunized.
The big impact now will be dealing with a society where a large number of people are ill. All businesses are asked to put continuity plans into place. Reactivate the COVID safety plans. Anticipate that up to a third of your workforce may be off with illness. Prepare for that. There won’t be any health orders issued (Dr. Henry reiterated her long-stated belief that they should be considered a last resort), it will be up to the businesses to manage their operations and staff.
Anyone who can work from home, should.
Give staff and customers the space they need to work safely. Stagger shifts, start times and breaks where possible. Use barriers where possible. Use PPE where possible.
Requiring vaccines can help business owners know the level of risk they are mitigating. Those who are vaccinated will in all likelihood need a shorter time off.
Keeping schools open remains one of the province’s higher priorities. Schools are essential for youth development. They are currently navigating a staggered start. If your kids are unvaccinated, consider pausing the extracurricular activities. Ideally, everyone in schools should be vaccinated. Schools are NOT a major source of transmission. As with other businesses, school districts are asked to plan for increased staff illness.
Other advice includes: Wear masks, one that is good fitting and comfortable. Three layers are best. Avoid gatherings at all costs. Stay at home if you are ill. No one should be travelling for tournaments. Default to “less” not “more” during this next wave.
Seniors in long-term homes have been the hardest hit. Right now, it’s still essential-visitors only. Once the mitigation plans have been established, one additional visitor will be allowed.
Dr. Henry noted that there will be a few challenging weeks ahead of us, but she said there was light at the end of the tunnel. Remember, we are ALL tired of this. Be kind. Be compassionate.
Health Minister Adrian Dix noted that numbers are going up, and will continue to rise for the next few weeks. Full stats will be provided in a release coming later this afternoon. This variant has changed so much it could be considered a new pandemic, or at the very least, a changed pandemic. Things are different in this wave than they have been in previous waves. We have to keep on adapting and keep on learning.
Watch today’s update here:
NOTE: SPN supports the knowledge and expertise of the provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. We accept that we do not have access to all the information she and her team have at hand when they make their decisions, and we also accept that at any given time, their knowledge and expertise out-ranks ours. Let’s not confuse pandemic exhaustion with personal attacks. One thing we may all have in common is that we are all tired of the pandemic. Keep it kind.
Dr. Henry says she knows not everyone is happy with her decision-making around the pandemic, but she has been surprised by the amount of personal attacks she has received.
— CBC British Columbia (@cbcnewsbc) January 4, 2022