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B.C. breaks COVID-19 case record for 4th day in a row, Omicron cases now over 1,000

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The B.C. government announced more than 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, breaking the province's all-time record for the fourth day in a row.

The update from the Ministry of Health confirmed a total of 2,441 new infections Christmas Eve, pushing B.C.'s seven-day average up to an all-time high of 1,403 infections per day.

Case numbers have continued to surge across the province since Dec. 13, skyrocketing from 349 up to 2,441 in less than two weeks.

Health officials also confirmed there are now 1,613 Omicron cases in the province as of Friday, a significant jump from Thursday's total of 975.

Just hours earlier, provincial health officer Bonnie Henry provided updated guidance on the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in a news conference, stressing the importance of prioritizing tests for those who need it.

“What we are seeing across this country and across the globe is that Omicron is different," Henry said. "It is spreading in a way that is very different from previous variants."

The province will be targeting those at the greatest risk of complications from COVID-19 such as those over age 65 and those with compromised immune systems. Others will be offered rapid tests.

"I want to be very clear," Henry said during the new conference. "Do not go to a testing centre unless you have symptoms, and then, we need to preserve the more-accurate PCR testing for those who really need it. The testing centres are not for pre-travel screening, nor do they give you a green light to spend time with others."

Henry is also recommending that anyone who has any symptoms of COVID-19 should assume they have it and self-isolate for seven days if they are fully vaccinated, or 10 days if they have had fewer than two shots of a COVID-19 vaccine.

As of Friday’s case update, hospitalizations have remained relatively stable, dipping slightly to 192 COVID-19 patients in hospital, with 71 of them in intensive care.

Another four people have also died in connection with COVID-19, bringing the province’s total since the start of the pandemic to 2,414.

Earlier this week, the province introduced stricter restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The measures included the closure of bars, nightclubs and gyms and the cancellation of all organized events such as wedding receptions.

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Andrew Weichel and Ian Holliday

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