The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
Get our free newsletter
Sign Up

Omicron’s Peak May Be Past, Says Province

But the health-care system could be stressed as already infected people get sicker in coming weeks.

Moira Wyton 14 Jan 2022 |

Moira Wyton is The Tyee’s health reporter. Follow her @moirawyton or reach her here. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

British Columbia’s fifth pandemic wave may have peaked last weekend in the Lower Mainland, according to new provincial data, but “challenging” weeks still lie ahead for the health-care system.

About 40 new patients are being admitted to hospital with COVID-19 each day, a number that could reach 250 per day by the end of next week, the models suggest.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presented the modelling today, which is based on testing wastewater for COVID, PCR testing trends and data from other jurisdictions to forecast the likely path of the variant in B.C.

Cases have been increasing sharply as the Omicron variant sweeps the province.

Henry said the water testing suggests the virus “peaked around the first week of January.”

Testing in all parts of the province has been overwhelmed and limited to high-risk people with symptoms, meaning real case counts are likely three to five times higher than reported each day.

Experts have said the province is “flying blind” and cast doubt on the accuracy of any modelling because of a lack of testing.

Henry said the test-positivity rate has decreased in recent weeks, signalling that transmission is trending down.

“This gives us more confidence that… at least in terms of transmission in the community, we’ve reached that peak and started our downward trajectory,” she said.

But with hospitalizations lagging cases by about a week, B.C. is not out of the woods.

“We are still at the point where our hospitalization rate is going up, so new hospitalizations are still a concern,” said Henry. “This is going to be a challenging week for our hospitals.”

Hospitalizations reached a new record on Thursday, with 534 patients being treated for the virus across B.C. The previous peak was 515 in April 2021.

Independent modelling earlier in January suggested B.C. could have about 4,000 patients in hospital at once by the end of the month.

Hospitals and staff are already hit by the Omicron wave, which has sent many health-care workers home ill.

From Jan. 3 to 9, 21,517 health-care workers were off ill for reasons including COVID-19, nearly triple the average number of sick workers the same week in 2020 and 2021.

But Omicron’s relatively milder impacts for vaccinated people means fewer people are requiring critical care or long hospital stays with the now-dominant variant.

851px version of HospitalizedPatientsBCNov2021Jan2022.jpg
Omicron has so far been less damaging for individuals than the Delta variant. Chart via BC Government.

About 12 per cent of confirmed Omicron patients required critical care from Nov. 28 to Jan. 7, compared to 39 per cent of patients infected by the Delta variant.

Half as many hospitalized Omicron patients are dying as did with Delta, Henry said.

And Omicron patients stay in hospital for an average of three days, about half of the length of stay for most Delta patients.

These differences will help blunt the pressure of Omicron hospitalizations on the health-care system, Henry said.

Although Omicron infects and transmits more easily in people with two doses of vaccine than Delta, vaccination remains a strong protection against serious illness and death, particularly among those under 70.

Hospitalizations among children have increased, the province said, including those too young to be vaccinated. Nine youth under 18 were admitted last week, and public health is seeing Omicron trigger respiratory issues like asthma in youth requiring hospital care.

Boosters are also proving extremely important for people over 60, Henry said, and age continues to be the single biggest risk factor for severe illness and death.

“We all need to do our part to protect those who are older,” she added.

But with higher transmission rates among people with two doses, the “halo effect” of vaccination that also protected unvaccinated people has weakened.

“Your risk has gone up dramatically,” Henry said to those without any shots.

People who are unvaccinated are 12 times more likely to be hospitalized, 27 times more likely to require critical care and 40 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated people of the same age.

“Vaccination works. Vaccination protects you from that severe illness,” said Henry. “And that level of protection is what is getting us through this wave without overwhelming our health-care system, as stretched as it is.”

Henry urged British Columbians to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as they are eligible, to stay home when ill and to follow public health regulations to maintain any downward trend.

Restrictions on indoor capacity and closures of bars, gyms, nightclubs and sports tournaments have likely reduced cases by as much as 20 per cent, Henry estimated.

“This tells us that we need to keep doing what we’re doing right now,” she said, suggesting that by spring B.C. will be in a very different and more positive place.

“I do think this is a step closer to us living and the virus becoming endemic in our community over time,” Henry said. “What we don’t yet know is what those patterns will look like in the coming years and what the virus is going to look like.”  [Tyee]

Read more: Coronavirus

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.


  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: What Coverage Would You Like to See More of This Year?

Take this week's poll