Terrace recorded 10 new COVID-19 cases between Dec. 19 and Dec. 25, 2021. (British Columbia Centre for Disease Control)

Terrace recorded 10 new COVID-19 cases between Dec. 19 and Dec. 25, 2021. (British Columbia Centre for Disease Control)

COVID-19 case counts in Kitimat continue to rise

‘Omicron has left us with more questions than answers’: Dr. Bonnie Henry

COVID-19 case counts in Kitimat continue to climb as there were 44 new cases reported during the week of Dec. 19 to Dec. 25. The rising case count means Kitimat had a daily case rate of 61 cases per 100,000 people.

In Terrace, there were 10 new COVID-19 cases and none in the Nass Valley.

Smithers recorded 55 new cases, and there were eight in Prince Rupert, according to British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) data.

Meanwhile, the Upper Skeena area saw 10 new cases. There was one new case on Haida Gwaii and three in the Snow Country – Stikine – Telegraph Creek LHA.

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 Dec. 20. See the full two dose list below, with weekly change indicated by brackets.

Kitimat — 97 per cent (+1)

Nisga’a — 89 per cent (+1)

Haida Gwaii — 87 per cent (+1)

Prince Rupert — 86 per cent (+1)

Snow Country – Stikine – Telegraph Creek — 84 per cent (+1)

Terrace — 83 per cent (+1)

Upper Skeena — 80 per cent (+0)

Smithers — 77 per cent (+1)

According to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Dec. 29, the impact of rising cases on the health care system is not yet known. The incubation period for the Omicron variant is averaging three days, half of what the earlier Delta variant was on average.

“Omicron has left us with more questions than answers, but it also is different, and is spreading through our communities in a way that is different from other variants,” Henry said.

Henry said the new variant can be transmissible before a person experiences symptoms, and she urged greater vigilance for people visiting senior homes or attending gatherings if experiencing respiratory symptoms. Data so far show people who have had COVID-19 have a 10 times greater chance of being reinfected if they do not have two doses of vaccine, Henry said.

Health minister Adrian Dix said the province’s booster vaccine program is expanding, with people aged 70 and up receiving invitations to book a third dose five months after their second one. Younger people who are registered can expect invitations six months after their second dose.

Asked about the true rate of virus infection spread as the B.C. health care system has reached its maximum of about 20,000 daily tests, Henry said the actual rate is not known, but it is likely three to four times the rate of positive molecular tests on a given day. That has been consistent since the pandemic began almost two years ago, she said.

B.C. health authorities continue to operate scheduled appointment COVID-19 vaccination clinics around the province for residents age five and older. Registration and booking appointments in B.C. can be done online, or by calling 1-833-838-2323 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week.

READ MORE: B.C. schools to have a staggered re-start in January; essential workers’ kids return first

— With files from Tom Fletcher