man sitting on a log looking at a a river

As Omicron spreads, the number of unreported COVID cases keeps growing ( local data)

According to the provincial government’s Daily Update, there are now at least 3,906 active COVID cases on Vancouver Island. This statistic is low. The number of people who are believed to have COVID and gone into self isolation, but have not yet been tested, is growing

“As many people have noted in the past few weeks, we reached our capacity both from testing,  from the lab equipment, from the personnel and the reagents,” said BC Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry on Friday. 

Cropped image of Bonnie Henry speaking at a previous COVID update – courtesy Province of BC

“Not everybody needs a test, they are a limited resource and we need to use them to ensure people who need them have access – whether it’s health care workers and long-term care and access to medications.”

Henry also said that at this point, she believes everyone in BC “knows somebody, or has somebody in their close social circle, who has been affected by COVID-19.” 

As Island Health has not updated its public COVID dashboard since Christmas Eve, statistics are no longer broken down into North, Central and South Vancouver Island. 

The BC Centre for Disease Control releases more area specific data, several days after the event.

Thus we know that as of the end of December, there have been 682 cases in the Greater Campbell River Local Health Area since the pandemic arrived, and this number must now exceed 700. 

That works out to about 1.5% of the population. 

If the virus spread out evenly across the health area, which seems highly unlikely, that would mean more than 527 people in the city of Campbell River, close to 40 on Quadra, 15 people on Cortes, and 1 on Read Island are either currently, or have been, infected.

As of the week ending on January 1st, there were at least 76 active cases. 

There are more people living to the south of us, in the Comox Valley Local Health Area, where the cumulative count as of December 31st is 1,732 cases, or 2.4% of the population. There were at least 169 active cases.

The cumulative count across from us on the Mainland, in the Powell River Local Health Area is 211, or roughly 1% of the population. As of the week ending on January 1st, at least 58 were active. 

Active cases for local health areas in the week ending Dec 31, 2021 – adapted from BC Centre for Disease Control

Once again, the numbers just reported are low especially for the past few weeks. 

“People with mild symptoms of what they believe is COVID are being encouraged to not take tests as the system is currently overtaxed,” said Henry.

“If you are fully vaccinated and have mild symptoms, you don’t need a test. Omicron is spreading widely in our communities. If you have those mild symptoms, whether it’s a runny nose, a cough, and you’ve been in connection with other people, it’s very likely that you have COVID.” 

She advised people with symptoms to stay home and follow the procedures laid out on the BC Centre for Disease Control website

Meanwhile, the public school system will reopen as planned on Monday morning. 

“I know that many parents are anxious about children coming back to school, particularly if you have vulnerable family members at home,” said Henry. “I just want to reassure you that the things that we have in place, we’ll do our best to mitigate any of the challenges that we have. And it’s important to remember as well we have very high rates of immunization in school staff, and I encourage all the children who are eligible in schools now to get vaccinated as well.”  

Top photo credit: The Campbell River empties into Discovery Passage at Tyee Spit in the city of Campbell River – by David Stanley via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

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