COVID-19 in B.C.: Final case update of the week reveals 405 new infections, 6 deaths

In the final COVID-19 update of the week, B.C.'s health ministry announced 405 more people tested positive for the disease over the past 24 hours.

The update, released in a written statement in the afternoon, also said six more people died from the coronavirus since Thursday. Three of those deaths happened in the Fraser Health region, two were in Island Health and the sixth was in Vancouver Coastal Health.

Friday's new case count pushed the province's rolling seven-day average up slightly to 354. On Thursday, it was 345.

The province's active caseload also rose slightly, from 3,020 to 3,071. Earlier this week, the province's active caseload dropped below 3,000 for the first time in three months.

Of those active cases, 276 people are in hospital and 95 are in intensive care. Both of those numbers are slightly lower from Thursday.

Fraser Health recorded the most new cases (110) in Friday's update. Interior Health had the second most with 97, though Island Health wasn't far behind with 96. Northern Health added 57 cases and Vancouver Coastal Health counted 45.

One new health-care facility outbreak was announced at Ponderosa Lodge, which is in the Interior. In total, five health-care facilities in the province are managing active outbreaks, the health ministry's update said.

By percentages, B.C.'s vaccine rates appeared nearly unchanged between Thursday's and Friday's updates. As of Friday, 85.1 per cent of eligible people aged five and older in B.C. had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. On Thursday, that figure was 85 per cent. However, that slight increase actually represented nearly 6,000 people getting their first shot in a 24-hour period.

Just over 3,000 people aged five and older got their second shot during that time period, meaning 81.8 per cent of eligible people in the province have had both doses.

Since the province just started administering vaccines to those between the ages of five and 11 on Monday, the vast majority of those who have been vaccinated in the province are aged 12 and older.

Among that older group, 91.2 per cent of B.C. residents have received at least one dose, and 88 per cent have received two shots. Approximately 11 per cent, or 468,509 people, have received a third dose.

Vaccinated people are still significantly less likely than unvaccinated people to contract COVID-19 and to be hospitalized in B.C.

While those who haven't received a single vaccine dose make up less than 20 per cent of B.C.'s total population, they made up 54 per cent of the cases counted between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1. They also made up 61.4 per cent of hospitalizations between Nov. 18 and Dec. 1.

Officials in B.C. are closely monitoring all new COVID-19 infections in the province to determine whether they were infected with the newest variant of concern, Omicron.

Experts have noted the variant has an alarmingly high number of mutations, though it remains unclear how they will affect transmissibility, severity of illness and possible vaccine resistance.

So far, just one Omicron case has been announced in B.C.