British Columbia

COVID-19 hospitalizations still rising as B.C. records 849 new cases and 1 more death

B.C. health officials announced 849 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death on Tuesday as the number of patients in hospital hit another record high.

There are 456 people in hospital with the disease, 148 of whom are in intensive care

More patients are in B.C. hospitals with COVID-19 than ever before, and the number in intensive care units has risen to another record high. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

B.C. health officials announced 849 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death on Tuesday as the number of patients in hospital hit another record high.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are currently 9,145 active cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A total of 456 people are in hospital, with 148 in intensive care — both record highs. In the last week, the total number of hospitalizations has risen by 20 per cent, while the ICU numbers have increased by nearly 28 per cent.

Henry and Dix warned that the situation in B.C.'s hospitals is becoming strained.

"At the current rates of transmission, our health-care workers and hospitals are getting pushed to the limits to support the many people with COVID-19 who require care," they said.

"We are taking steps to reduce this pressure and we need everyone in B.C. to do the same."

On Monday, Premier John Horgan announced that strict new travel measures were on the way, coming into effect Friday and lasting until after the May long weekend. Henry and Dix said everyone needs to do their part by staying local for the next month.

"We will get through this pandemic. As we have done before, we will do this by working together. Let's do all we can now so we can enjoy a different summer," they said."

The provincial death toll from the disease so far is 1,539 out of 120,889 confirmed cases.

Public health is actively monitoring 13,679 people across the province who are in self-isolation because of COVID-19 exposure.

B.C. recorded two new outbreaks in health-care facilities, at Dawson Creek and District Hospital and Surrey Memorial Hospital. The outbreak at Long Lake Chateau in Nanaimo has been declared over.

So far, 1,414,644 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 88,263 second doses.

The number of confirmed cases of variants of concern has risen to 6,179, the bulk of which continue to be the B117 variant first identified in the U.K.

Horgan has said the incoming travel restrictions are aimed at reducing the movement of people and curtailing the spread of the virus. The province has asked the tourism industry to reject bookings from people travelling outside their local areas, he added, saying he's confident tourism businesses will comply, but the province is prepared to enforce new orders if they don't.

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth is drafting orders to further restrict travel to stop people from leaving their health authorities for non-essential reasons, he said. There will be random audits of travellers to make sure people are complying with rules.

Restrictions banning indoor dining and adult fitness activities at gyms have been extended for another five weeks.

AstraZeneca age eligibility changes

As of Monday, people in B.C. born in 1981 or earlier are eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine through pharmacies and, in some hard-hit areas, special clinics.

Officials have released a list of 13 community health service areas that have seen the highest COVID-19 case rates that will be given top priority through the clinics. All but two of the communities are in the Lower Mainland.

People who wish to get the AstraZeneca vaccine through a pharmacy need to book their shot with the pharmacy itself. The province provides a list of participating pharmacies online. Pharmacies have limited supplies of the vaccine.

The province also continues to vaccinate British Columbians according to age cohorts. On Tuesday, people born in 1986 or earlier became eligible to register to receive an eventual appointment for their first shot.

With files from Bridgette Watson

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