Terrace recorded 54 new COVID-19 cases during the week of Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, 2022. (British Columbia Centre for Disease Control)

Terrace recorded 54 new COVID-19 cases during the week of Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, 2022. (British Columbia Centre for Disease Control)

Most of northwest B.C. sees jump in new COVID-19 cases

Omicron variant driving rise in infections

There were 54 new COVID-19 cases in the Terrace local health area (LHA) during the week of Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, compared to just 10 during the previous week.

Almost every LHA in northwest B.C. saw a jump in new cases as the Omicron variant continues its rise in the province. Smithers experienced 159 new cases, an increase of more than 100 compared to the week before, according to British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) data.

There were 61 new cases in Kitimat, 24 in Prince Rupert, 22 on Haida Gwaii and 28 in the Snow Country – Stikine – Telegraph Creek LHA.

Upper Skeena had a slight drop in new cases from 10 to seven, and the Nisga’a LHA recorded zero.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, said on Jan. 4 that 80 per cent of all cases in B.C. are now Omicron and businesses should prepare for as many as one-third of their staff members to be off sick at a time.

The new variant is considered to be more infectious – but potentially more mild – and has a shorter incubation period, down to three days.

“It’s no longer the case, that we have three or four degrees of separation, that you know, somebody who knows somebody may be that might have contracted the virus” Henry said.

“The rate of transmission that we’re seeing now in British Columbia, like many other jurisdictions around the world, means that at this point, most people in B.C. likely have a friend or a family member or a colleague who has been infected with the Omicron variant.”

From Dec. 28 to Jan. 3, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 16.2 per cent of new of cases, and from Dec. 21 to Jan. 3, they accounted for 51.4 per cent of hospitalizations.

Each northwest LHA has a rate of more than 80 per cent of people 12 and up with two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, except Smithers as of Jan. 4. See the full two dose list below, with weekly change indicated by brackets.

Kitimat — 97 per cent (+0)

Nisga’a — 89 per cent (+0)

Haida Gwaii — 87 per cent (+0)

Prince Rupert — 86 per cent (+0)

Snow Country – Stikine – Telegraph Creek — 84 per cent (+0)

Terrace — 84 per cent (+1)

Upper Skeena — 81 per cent (+1)

Smithers — 77 per cent (+0)

On Jan. 5, Northern Health launched a new vaccine clinic at the Skeena Mall in a space located next to the Sportchek.

The clinic is open to people aged five and older for both booked appointments and drop-in. Registration is required before booking an appointment, and Northern Health also recommends registering for drop-in visits.

Booster doses will be distributed at the site for people with appointments, or drop-ins with proof of eligibility.

The clinic is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursdays.

People can visit getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca or call 1-833-838-2323 to register to get vaccinated.

READ MORE: COVID vaccination rates stall out in northern B.C.

READ MORE: Coast Mountains School District 82 releases January staggered restart guidelines

— With files from Katya Slepian and Tom Fletcher