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B.C. identifies first COVID-19 Omicron variant while 204 others are tested

·2 min read

VICTORIA — British Columbia has become the fourth province to identify its first case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the affected person recently returned from Nigeria and lives in an area covered by the Fraser Health authority.

Henry says 204 people who recently returned from parts of southern African with outbreaks of the variant are undergoing testing while in quarantine.

The federal government has announced that all air travellers, except those coming from the United States, will now be tested for COVID-19 when they arrive at Canadian airports, regardless of their vaccination status.

The Omicron variant has also been found in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.

Henry announced new restrictions for faith services heading into the Christmas holiday season with people attending and participating in those services, such as choir members, required to wear masks unless physical distancing is in place, while capacity will also be limited to 50 per cent unless every attendee is vaccinated.

Earlier Tuesday, the B.C. government said more than 98 per cent of public service workers meet provincial proof-of-vaccination requirements.

The Public Service Agency said in a statement 432 employees either are unvaccinated or declined to disclose their status before a Nov. 22 deadline for them to be either partially or fully vaccinated. It says 97 per cent of the more than 38,000 government workers are fully vaccinated, 439 people are partially vaccinated and another 274 workers have asked for accommodation based on medical or other reasons.

Employees who are unvaccinated, refuse to disclose their status, or who are partially vaccinated and don't get their second dose within 35 days of their first dose will be placed on unpaid leave for three months, the agency added.

Employees who do not show proof of full vaccination after the three-month unpaid leave may be terminated.

The policy applies to all employees who work for the B.C. public service and includes those on boards, commissions, agencies or any organization where the Public Service Act applies.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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