British Columbia

B.C. reports 891 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 15 more deaths

B.C. health officials reported 891 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Thursday, including 119 in intensive care, as the province recorded 15 more deaths from the disease and 2,150 new cases.

Province records 2,150 new cases of the disease

Two people wait at a Service Canada office in Vancouver on Oct. 21, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

B.C. health officials reported 891 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Thursday, including 119 in intensive care, as the province recorded 15 more deaths from the disease and 2,150 new cases.

The new numbers represent a decrease of four COVID-19 patients hospitalized within the last 24 hours, but an increase of four patients in the ICU.

Due to a data reporting change introduced Jan. 14, week-to-week hospitalization comparisons won't be available again until Friday.

The number of patients in intensive care is up by about 15 per cent from 102 a week ago and up by about 35 per cent from a month ago when 77 people were in the ICU.

Experts say hospitalizations are a more accurate barometer of the disease's impact, as new case numbers in B.C. are likely much higher than reported, now that the province has hit its testing limit because of the Omicron surge.

There are currently 34,835 recorded active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C.

The provincial death toll from COVID-19 is now 2,520 out of 305,715 confirmed cases to date.

There are a total of 58 active outbreaks in assisted living, long-term, and acute care facilities.

Acute care outbreaks include:

  • Surrey Memorial Hospital
  • Abbotsford Regional Hospital
  • Langley Memorial Hospital
  • Laurel Place
  • Burnaby Hospital
  • Peace Arch Hospital
  • CareLife Fleetwood
  • Queen's Park Care Centre
  • Kelowna General Hospital
  • Royal Jubilee Hospital (Island Health)

As of Thursday, 89.4 per cent of those five and older in B.C. had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 83.5 per cent a second dose.

A total of 1,700,206 people have received a booster shot to date.

From January 12 to 18, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 27 per cent of cases and from January 5 to 18, they accounted for 31 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province.

In the Northern Health region, restrictions that have been in place in since Dec. 24 have now been repealed, according to the health authority, to align with current provincial restrictions.

Rapid tests for school staff

The province says 200,000 rapid antigen test kits are being shipped to school districts, independent schools and First Nation schools across B.C. this week for staff, including teachers and administrators.

The number of tests each district receives will depend on staffing levels.

"Rapid antigen tests are an additional tool that can be used to support the continuity of learning in schools with the aim to reduce transmission of COVID-19," the Ministry of Education said in a release.

The ministry says there are around 103,700 staff working in public, private and First Nation schools.

B.C. hospitals strained from Omicron

The strain on British Columbia's hospitals from the Omicron variant is growing, with 95 per cent of B.C.'s hospital beds currently occupied. Health experts warn the impact of the variant will be felt for months. 

"The impact is clear on our health system," said Dr. Srinivas Murthy, a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at the University of B.C.'s Faculty of Medicine. "It's going to continue to have this impact for months to come."

On Tuesday, the province announced more postponed surgeries, reduced ambulatory care services, and health-care staff redeployed to emergency wards in some regions.

B.C. Nurses' Union President Aman Grewal said Thursday the increasing number of hospitalizations highlights the "severe staffing crisis" among nurses.

"That is increasing the workload of an understaffed system that is already exhausted two years into this pandemic," Grewal said in an interview with CBC's The Early Edition



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