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B.C. seeing Omicron cases doubling ‘every two days’: experts

Click to play video: 'B.C. getting tough in response to rising COVID-19 case numbers' B.C. getting tough in response to rising COVID-19 case numbers
COVID-19 Modeller Caroline Colijn discusses the concerning rise in COVID case numbers as B.C. gets set to put more public health restrictions in place. – Dec 21, 2021

As B.C. looks to introduce new restrictions Tuesday amid a rise in COVID-19 cases, experts are warning about the upcoming holiday season.

COVID-19 Modeller Caroline Colijn said the latest modelling suggests a “steep rise” in cases, about 20 to 25 per cent more a day. She said this represents a doubling time of just a few days for cases and this is a “real cause for concern.”

“If things double every two days, when you have two or four cases, that’s OK, but when there’s 200 and you get to 400 and 800 very very quickly, as we’re starting to see, that’s a real challenge just for the sheer number and volume of cases.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Omicron is rapidly replacing the Delta variant as the dominant strain in B.C.' COVID-19: Omicron is rapidly replacing the Delta variant as the dominant strain in B.C.
COVID-19: Omicron is rapidly replacing the Delta variant as the dominant strain in B.C – Dec 21, 2021

Colijn said all the previous variants rose much slower in cases than what experts are seeing in Omicron.

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“It is much faster than any other variant we’ve seen so far,” she added.

Read more: COVID-19: B.C. to ban indoor organized events, shut nightclubs, and keep home gatherings small

The issue will be if the sheer volume of cases overwhelms the hospitals, Colijn said, adding they are seeing booster shots offering additional protection from the variant.

“I think we won’t win the race with boosters, but they are very important and may be the most important tool we will have against Omicron,” she said.

“I think it’s also important for people to remember they have a lot of control over what happens with Omicron.”

“So if you are not yet vaccinated, now’s the time, if you are offered a booster, now’s the time. But we can also upgrade our masks, open windows, keep gatherings small, keep ventilation good and those sorts of choices will keep bending the curve as well.”

Click to play video: 'Slowing down the spread of Omicron with boosters' Slowing down the spread of Omicron with boosters
Slowing down the spread of Omicron with boosters – Dec 21, 2021

University of Saskatchewan epidemiologist Nazeem Muhajarine said they are seeing Omicron spread at a “frightening speed” across Canada, including in B.C.

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Cases of COVID-19 in B.C. soared over the weekend with another 2,550 new infections reported.

There were 911 detected between Friday and Saturday, 832 from Saturday to Sunday and 807 from Sunday to Monday.

There are now 5,435  active cases in the province.

Read more: B.C. COVID-19 cases soar over the weekend with 2,550 new infections

“I think in about two to three weeks, when we have seen our cases rise over the last two weeks or so, we will see whether (Omicron) is having those severe consequences that we are so concerned about,” Muhajarine said.

He cited the United Kingdom and the state of New York in the U.S. as areas experts are watching “very closely” to see how Omicron spreads.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday he would not be introducing any new COVID-19 restrictions in England before Christmas, but that he could not rule out implementing further measures after the winter holidays as the Omicron variant spreads.

Click to play video: 'U.K.’s Johnson rules out any new COVID-19 restrictions before Christmas' U.K.’s Johnson rules out any new COVID-19 restrictions before Christmas
U.K.’s Johnson rules out any new COVID-19 restrictions before Christmas – Dec 21, 2021

“I think we have to be very guarded in jumping to conclusions that this variant is not as severe as other variants,” Muhajarine added. “It’s too soon to tell.”

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