British Columbia

B.C. reports 3 more people in hospital with COVID-19, 3 fewer in the ICU and 6 new deaths

B.C. health officials reported 276 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Wednesday, including 43 in intensive care, as the province recorded six more deaths from the disease and 291 new cases.

Hospitalizations rise to 276 from 273

COVID statistics continue to fluctuate as mask wearing is now optional and the B.C. Vaccine Card is to be removed next week. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

B.C. health officials reported 276 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Wednesday, including 43 in intensive care, as the province recorded six more deaths from the disease and 291 new cases.

The new numbers represent an increase of three COVID-19 patients hospitalized within the last 24 hours, and three fewer patients in the ICU.

Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are up by seven per cent from last Wednesday when 258 people were in hospital with the disease and down about 47 per cent from a month ago when 523 people were in hospital. 

The number of patients in intensive care is down by about 12 per cent from 49 a week ago and down by 48 per cent from a month ago, when 83 people were in the ICU.

As of Wednesday, 6.9 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 in February, along with hospitalizations.Test positivity bottomed out earlier this month at 5.6 per cent, but has been slowly creeping back up since Mar. 21.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said anything above a five per cent test-positivity rate is an indicator of a more worrying level of transmission.

The provincial death toll from COVID-19 is now 2,996 lives lost out of 356,252 confirmed cases to date.

There are seven active outbreaks in assisted living, long-term, and acute care facilities, including an outbreak at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

As of Wednesday, 90.8 per cent of those five and older in B.C. had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 87.3 per cent a second dose. Those numbers have remained constant for several days.

From March 22 to 28, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 17.7 per cent of cases and from March 15 to 28, they accounted for 20.4 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province.

A total of 2.6 million people have received a third shot.

Possible 4th dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Although less than 60 per cent of eligible adults have received their COVID-19 booster dose so far, a fourth dose is now being explored to help with waning immunity. 

Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends a fourth shot for moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals six months after their third dose. In the U.S., regulators authorized a fourth dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for Americans 50 and older earlier this week.

The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were tested as a two-shot regimen. That said, three doses have been proven to offer stronger protection against serious illness. 

For anyone who's at a high risk of getting severe COVID — including seniors and those who are immunocompromised — a fourth shot is likely a "very good idea" and provides significant additional protection, according to virologist Angela Rasmussen.

"However, for many people who don't fit into those categories, it's hard to say that the fourth shot's going to provide much of a benefit, especially long-term, over a third shot," said Rasmussen, a researcher with the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization.

With files from Lauren Pelley

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