VICTORIA — British Columbia reported 2,046 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, eclipsing the previous record set the day before as the Omicron variant spreads.
The province says 975 cases of the highly transmissible variant have been confirmed so far, with more than half in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
The health authority that spans Metro Vancouver, the Sea to Sky region and the Sunshine Coast says it has begun using rapid antigen tests in addition to standard PCR tests as demand for COVID-19 testing increases.
It says in a statement that most people will now be offered a rapid test, while PCR tests will be prioritized for people at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
The health authority says it's not running out of PCR tests, but the use of rapid tests is an important strategy to help absorb the increase in demand for testing.
Vancouver Coastal says people who test positive with a take-home rapid test are provided with instructions for reporting their result to the health authority as well as self-isolation, managing symptoms and notifying their contacts.
There are 8,739 active COVID-19 infections across B.C. with 195 people in hospital.
One more person has died, pushing the province's death toll to 2,410.
The Health Ministry says 87.7 per cent of eligible residents aged five and up have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 82.7 per cent have received two and 17 per cent of eligible adults have received a third shot.
It says people with two doses accounted for more than 75 per cent of new COVID-19 infections between Dec. 15 and 21, while people who had not been vaccinated made up more than 66 per cent of hospitalizations between Dec. 8 and 21.
Also Thursday, the B.C. government announced that one-time grants will be available for businesses forced to close under the latest public health rules.
Ravi Kahlon, the minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, said affected businesses, such as bars, fitness centres, and event venues, would be able to apply for a grant ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 starting next month.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 23, 2021.
The Canadian Press