COVID-19 hospitalizations in B.C. drop below 400 for 1st time since early January
Hospitalizations fall to 388 from 405.
B.C. health officials reported 388 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Thursday, including 52 in intensive care, as the province recorded four more deaths from the disease and 336 new cases.
The new numbers represent a decrease of 17 COVID-19 patients hospitalized within the last 24 hours, including six fewer patients in the ICU.
Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are down by 24 per cent from last Thursday, when 511 people were in hospital with the disease and down about 55 per cent from a month ago when 867 people were in hospital.
The number of patients in intensive care is down by more than a third from 79 a week ago and down by 62 per cent from a month ago when 138 people were in the ICU.
The provincial death toll from COVID-19 is now 2,932 lives lost out of 351,751 confirmed cases to date.
There are a total of 14 active outbreaks in assisted living, long-term, and acute care facilities, including an outbreak at Mission Memorial Hospital.
As of Thursday, 90.7 per cent of those five and older in B.C. had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 86.6 per cent a second dose.
From March 2 to 8, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 18 per cent of cases and from Feb. 23 to March 8, they accounted for 29 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province.
A total of 2.6 million people have received a booster shot to date.
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Some restrictions lifted
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the lifting of restrictions around vaccine card and mask use, with the mask mandate ending Friday, Mar. 11 at 12:01 a.m. Long-term care visitation will also be restored and faith gathering capacity limits lifted
While British Columbians will no longer have to wear masks in low-risk, indoor public spaces, they will still be required in some health-care settings, such as physicians offices.
Henry is encouraging the use of masks in spaces where physical distancing is difficult to maintain, such as on public transit and on B.C. Ferries, but they will not be required.
The provincial mandate for vaccine cards — which were required in non-essential indoor spaces like restaurants and gyms — will be dropped on April 8, as long as conditions continue to improve, she said.
On April 8, businesses can shift from their COVID-19 safety plans to communicable disease plans. The vaccination requirement for those living in post-secondary residences will also be lifted.
Henry said that while the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 is not zero, she's confident, given the decline in hospitalizations and transmission, that these changes can be made safely.
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