17 more people die from COVID-19 in B.C., but hospitalizations continue to fall
Hospitalizations down to 846 from 867
B.C. health officials reported 846 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Friday, including 136 in intensive care, as the province recorded 17 more deaths from the disease and the seven-day rolling average of new deaths remains in double-digits for the eighth straight day.
The new numbers represent a decrease of 21 COVID-19 patients hospitalized within the last 24 hours, including two fewer patients in the ICU.
Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are down by 10.6 per cent from last Friday, when 946 people were in hospital with the disease.
it's the fourth straight day hospitalizations have dropped in B.C., with the number of people in hospital down 19 per cent since the beginning of the month.
Deaths also lag cases, with higher numbers a reflection of Omicron's surge last month.
Due to a data reporting change introduced Jan. 14, month-to-month hospitalization comparisons won't be available again until Feb. 14.
The number of patients in intensive care is down slightly by about 0.7 per cent from 139 a week ago and up by 42 per cent from a month ago when 97 people were in the ICU.
As of Friday, 16.9 per cent of COVID-19 tests in B.C. are coming back positive, according to the province's COVID-19 dashboard. The number had been above 20 per cent though most of January but began to fall this month, along with the number of people in hospital.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that anything above a five per cent test-positivity rate is an indicator of community transmission.
The provincial death toll from COVID-19 is now 2,747 lives lost out of 338,792 confirmed cases to date.
There are a total of 46 active outbreaks in assisted living, long-term, and acute care facilities, including an outbreak at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
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As of Friday, 90.3 per cent of those five and older in B.C. had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 85 per cent a second dose.
From Feb. 3 to 9, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 23.7 per cent of cases and from Jan. 27 to Feb. 9, they accounted for 31.3 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province.
A total of 2.4 million people have received a booster shot to date.
Expanded vaccine mandate
The province's vaccine mandate for health-care workers has been expanded to include dentists, doctors, chiropractors, and other health practitioners regulated by B.C.'s health-care colleges.
They have until March 24 to get their first dose. Health professionals with one dose before March 24 may continue to work as long as they receive a second dose 28-35 days after their first.
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The new vaccine mandate is set to be rolled out in a phased manner, Henry said, and there will also be opportunities for those under the mandate to provide medical exemptions.
Restrictions on gatherings in B.C. are set to expire on Feb. 16., and Health Minister Adrian Dix says the province is currently on track to see those restrictions eased or lifted.
With files from Justin McElroy