Hospitalizations fall for 23rd straight day, as B.C. records 10 more deaths from COVID-19
COVID-19 related hospitalizations fall to 517 from 523
B.C. health officials reported 517 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Wednesday, including 73 in intensive care, as the province recorded 10 more deaths from the disease and 442 new cases.
Hospitalizations have been falling every day since Feb. 8.
The new numbers represent a decrease of five COVID-19 patients hospitalized within the last 24 hours, including 10 fewer patients in the ICU.
Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are down by 20.8 per cent from last Wednesday, when 653 people were in hospital with the disease and down about 47.6 per cent from a month ago when 988 people were in hospital. The rolling average of daily hospitalizations is down two-thirds from its peak in late January.
Deaths also lag cases, with higher numbers a reflection of Omicron's January surge.
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The number of patients in intensive care is down by about 32.4 per cent from 108 a week ago and down by 46.3 per cent from a month ago when 136 people were in the ICU.
As of Wednesday, 7.5 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.
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 2,883 lives lost out of 349,213 confirmed cases to date.
There are a total of 21 active outbreaks in assisted living, long-term, and acute care facilities. Five new outbreaks were declared by the province on Wednesday, and 11 outbreaks were declared over.
As of Wednesday, 90.6 per cent of those five and older in B.C. had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 86.3 per cent a second dose.
From Feb. 22 to 28, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 19.7 per cent of cases and from Feb. 15 to 28, they accounted for 34.6 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province.
A total of 2.58 million people have received a booster shot to date.
Get boosted, Henry says
B.C.'s provincial health officer is strongly urging those who haven't done so to get their COVID-19 booster dose, as the province moves into the next phase of the pandemic.
"Vaccination is our key," Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a news conference on Tuesday.
"It's the key that we have had for getting past these past two waves, both delta and omicron. It's made a tremendous difference in reducing transmission and we see that particularly with the booster dose."
She said vaccines are 60 to 70 per cent protective in preventing infection, and "highly protective" in preventing the need for hospitalization from COVID-19.
Transmission is slowing in B.C., but layers of protection such as masks and vaccine cards won't be lifted, health officials said, until they are confident it's safe to do so.
Alberta lifted its mask mandate on Tuesday as part of its general easing of COVID-19 restrictions. Henry said deciding which layers of protection to adopt will eventually become an individual choice.
Henry says there are still some uncertainties about new variants, including omicron sub variant BA.2, with some cases present in B.C.
She also said the province is prepared for a potential uptick in COVID-19 cases during the next respiratory season and that the province will integrate wastewater surveillance testing into its regular surveillance of respiratory illness to get a periodic snapshot of what else may be circulating in communities.
With files from The Canadian Press and Courtney Dickson