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COVID-19 business plans ordered reinstated for all B.C. companies

Nine more deaths, hospitalizations and ICU up again Friday
Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Peter Johnston holds up a COVID-19 rapid test kit, December 2021. B.C. is also using self-administered rapid tests for remote and Indigenous communities, and expects to have tests available for parents and school staff by mid-January. (CYFN/Facebook)

Preparing for the full return to school next week and a continued surge of COVID-19 infections that could be as many as 10,000 a day, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Friday that her latest public health order is to require pandemic safety plans for all businesses.

Details are to be worked out with WorkSafeBC and individual businesses, but barriers and reduced crowding are among the options, Henry said at a briefing Jan. 7. It does not apply to child care, post-secondary or the K-12 school system, which have their own infection reduction plans.

“This is about activating all of those layers of protection again to reduce the impact of the omicron circulation in our communities and making sure we can continue to operate our businesses,” Henry said. It’s about business continuity and we know that this has proven to work to keep businesses open and to safely manage.”

B.C. public health teams reported 3,144 new cases Friday, and nine more deaths. There are 349 people in hospital with active COVID-19 infections as of Jan. 7, up from 324 in the past 24 hours, and 93 people in intensive care, up from 90.

Hospitalization and intensive care numbers have crept up slowly with record new cases of the Omicron variant, but outbreaks in the health care system have shot up along with community infections. The health ministry reported 16 new outbreaks on Thursday, for a total of 37 active outbreaks province-wide, mostly in senior care homes. An outbreak is declared when one or more residents tests positive, or when more than one staff person does.

There were two more health care outbreaks declared Friday, at Surrey Memorial Hospital and Peace Arch Hospital Foundation Lodge.

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 here, or by calling 1-833-838-2323 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week.

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