B.C. businesses should be preparing to have more people off sick as the Omicron variant surges, says Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
The biggest challenge over the next few weeks will be people who are off work sick.
“Given the rate of transmission, the short incubation period and the high number of people who are getting ill, we need all businesses to put contingency plans in place to keep businesses operating when people are off ill.”
She said businesses need to reactivate COVID-19 safety plans and that businesses should anticipate that as many as one-third of workers could be off sick.
She suggested that anyone who can work from home, should be doing just that. She also suggested that businesses should have fewer people in the same place at the same time and should limit the number of customers in their business at one time. And, she said, businesses should require workers to be vaccinated.
“While vaccine won’t stop all of us from getting infected with Omicron, it does significantly reduce the likelihood that we’re going to have severe illness and be off for longer,” she said. “And the risk of having long term symptoms is reduced.”
Omicron accounts for about 80 per cent of cases in B.C. Omicron spreads in a different way than Delta, which means the province has to adjust what it is doing to combat it.
The rates of hospitalizations are slowly creeping up, she said.
“The rate of transmission that we’re seeing now means that most people in B.C. probably have a friend or a family member or a colleague who has been infected by the Omicron variant,” she said.
She said a lot of people will get sick, but vaccinations will protest most people from serious illness and hospitalizations. Other measures such as social distancing, washing our hands, etc. are still a key part of the fight against COVID-19.
“All of us have to be proactive in how we prevent ourselves from getting sick, but also how we prevent transmission to others,” she said.