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High vaccination rate helped mitigate B.C. university COVID-19 spike: Dr. Henry

Case uptick hasn’t translated into severe illness in University of Victoria community, Henry says
Dr. Bonnie Henry credited high vaccination rate among the University of Victoria community for mitigating the effects of a spike in COVID-19 cases associated with the school. (Photo courtesy of UVic)

The province’s top doctor credited high vaccination among the University of Victoria community for helping mitigate the effects of spiking COVID-19 cases associated with the school.

“The vaccination rates in our universities and colleges in B.C. are in the high 90s,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a Friday briefing, where new COVID-19 measures were announced in response to the Omicron variant. “In UVic, it was 97 (or) 98 per cent and that’s reflected in the fact that even though (COVID-19) spread very widely in the group of students in the social gatherings, they did not have anybody with severe disease.

“That’s good news.”

UVic moved all its remaining exams online as of Monday (Dec. 130. Also on that day, Island Health and the university said a cluster of COVID-19 cases associated with the school community had risen to 124, including at least four cases of the Omicron variant as of Monday. The uptick in cases was linked to off-campus social gatherings and a national rugby tournament in Kingston last month.

Island Health and UVic said earlier this week that COVID-19 transmission on-campus hasn’t been identified, something the province’s health officer echoed on Friday.

“We know that cases have been very low at post-secondary institutions and we have not had transmission in classroom settings, for example, or in lab settings,” Henry said. “It has been almost exclusively in those social events, off-campus mostly, where there’s not mask-wearing.”

In general, she said, “we’ve had a very successful return to campus across the province.”

READ: University of Victoria COVID-19 cluster grows to 124; four cases so far listed as Omicron variant

READ: Sports tournaments, New Year’s parties banned in B.C. Omicron surge

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