VICTORIA, B.C. – The Northern Health region added 99 cases Wednesday, moving the active case count to 431.

There have been seven Omicron cases identified in the region.

There are 17 people in hospital, six of whom are in critical care.

There was one death reported since December 24th, bringing the total to 275.

Out of 18,777 cases, 18,058 have recovered.

Another 1,395 vaccine doses were given since last reported, moving the total doses administered to 421,111. Of those, 185,979 are second doses and 32,822 are other doses.

British Columbia announced a record-breaking 2,944 new cases of COVID-19 since Tuesday, bringing the active case count to 16,014.

There are 193 people in hospital, 66 of whom are in critical care.

There were five COVID-19 deaths since Christmas Eve, bringing the total to 2,419.

Since last spring, 256,671 cases have been recorded, 227,780 of those have since recovered.

The province gave 61,180 doses since last reported, bringing the total dose count to 9,337,772. Of those, 4,111,560 are second doses and 859,137 are other doses.

In the first briefing since Christmas Eve, provincial officials announced Wednesday that schools would be implementing a phased restart over the coming weeks amid the rise in COVID-19 cases.

Most students will return to school on January 10th, while teachers and staff will return next week. The initial return date of January 3rd and 4th will remain the same for children with special needs and children of essential workers.

“This delayed start will allow Public Health and Education time to assess the impact of the Omicron variant in our communities and on our education system. It will also provide teachers, staff, and administrators time to prepare for students safely returning to class with enhanced safety measures,” said Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside.

“Our primary goal is to continue the work to keep students learning safely, in-person for the remainder of this school year.”

Whiteside said further safety measures would be implemented in addition to the existing guidelines.

The 2022 World Juniors hockey tournament was cancelled Wednesday after multiple COVID-19 cases were identified among teams.

Following a recommendation by the tournament COVID-19 Medical Group and the IIHF Medical Committee, the IIHF Council decided that, due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship will be cancelled to ensure the health and safety of all participants.

In a release, the IIHF says, “The decision comes following a positive case on a player on the Russian national team, which would have necessitated a forfeit of the Russia-Slovakia game scheduled for December 29th. The game is the third to be cancelled due to positive cases, following Switzerland-USA and Finland-Czechia.”

“In addition to ensuring the health and safety of participants, the Council has determined that with another forfeiture – the third forfeited game in two days – the sportive integrity of the event has been compromised, and the event must be cancelled.