Transmission of Omicron is decreasing in British Columbia, modeling shows – but hospitalizations have yet to peak
Modeling shows that community spread of the highly transmissible variant of Omicron is declining, according to the BC government, but the province is not yet off the hook.
Health officials presented the latest COVID-19 modeling projections at a news conference on Friday.
Data shows that community transmission has declined so far in the Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health and Island Health regions, but there is still likely to be an increase in hospitalizations in the next week or two.
This, according to the province, is due to a lag between the peak of community transmission and the peak of hospitalizations during the Omicron wave, as evidenced by other parts of the world, such as New York and London, where the variant arrived more early.
British Columbia officials also examined sewage samples which they said showed transmission of Omicron likely peaked in the Lower Mainland during the first week of January.
On Thursday, two weeks into January, the province reported more people hospitalized than at any other time during the pandemic, showing the lag between community spread and hospital admission.
While only 17% of British Columbia’s population is unvaccinated, data shows the risk of death is higher for those who are unvaccinated.
In December, a report from an independent COVID-19 modeling group said hospitalizations from the Omicron-fueled fifth wave in British Columbia would reach unprecedented highs around mid-January.
The variant is also responsible for staffing shortages in many sectors, including among police, paramedics and healthcare workers.
British Columbia’s largest medical laboratory service provider, LifeLabs, was also forced to close or reduce hours at 16 locations for at least two weeks due to staffing issues related to the variant.
Experts say hospitalizations are now a more accurate barometer of the impact of the disease, as the number of new cases in British Columbia is likely much higher than reported now that the province has reached its testing limit in due to Omicron’s thrust.