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COVID-19 hospitalizations in B.C. hit record 895

COVID-19 hospitalizations have been at record levels in each of the past five data updates.
COVID hospital bed woman - getty Morsa Images
Woman with COVID-19 recovers in hospital

COVID-19 hospitalizations in B.C. have hit record levels in each of the past five data updates, with the number today rising to 895.

The province had a record 534 people in hospital on Jan. 13. The province the next day changed, and broadened, how it counted the number of those in hospital.

The counts since Jan. 14 include those who caught COVID-19 while already in hospital, people who entered hospital for COVID-19 and are no longer deemed infectious, and COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals who normally reside outside the province. 

Hospital occupancy is an important metric to chart the seriousness of the pandemic because Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry have warned that if people let down their guard against COVID-19, B.C. hospitals could be overwhelmed. 

Of those now in hospital, 115 are in intensive care units (ICUs). There has not been more COVID-19 patients in B.C. ICUs since November 15, when 116 such patients were fighting for their lives in those wards.

B.C.'s overall 80.7% acute-care hospital bed occupancy rate remains below pre-pandemic levels, which tended to be above 100% in January, Health Minister Adrian Dix said yesterday.   

Another 13 people died overnight from COVID-19 complications, raising the province's pandemic death toll to 2,505.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said yesterday that "age remains the single most important risk factor for having severe illness with COVID-19."

She explained that people older than 70 years have increased risk in part because of people's immune systems are not as responsive as they age.

This heightens concern for those in health-care facilities, seniors' care homes and retirement communities, where there has been a recent alarming increase in active outbreaks.

B.C. has five new such outbreaks in the past day, for a total of 56. That is a net total of three more than yesterday, and 55 more than it was less than a month ago, on December 20. 

New outbreaks in those facilities include:
• Joseph Creek Care Village in Cranbrook;
• Eagle Ridge Manor in Port Moody;
• Sidney All Care Residence in Sidney;
• Sunrise of Victoria in Victoria; and
• Comox Valley Seniors Village in Courtenay.

Outbreaks in those facilities that are newly declared to be over were at Mount Cartier Court in Revelstoke and Clover Point Care in Victoria.

Health officials' recent guidance to vaccinated individuals who have mild COVID-19 symptoms is to self-isolate and not get tested. That is to ensure that testing kits and staff are able to focus more on people with more severe symptoms. As a result, many doubt data for new cases and active cases is reliable. 

The number of tests conducted has also declined, to an average of 10,746 per day in each of the past few days, down from 20,133 on December 23.

Regardless, the official count is that health officials detected 2,387 new COVID-19 infections in the past day. That reduces the number of people actively infected to 35,770, from the record of 37,224 yesterday. 

Of the 303,565 known COVID-19 infections in the province since the first case was detected in January 2020, 2  or 86.5%, 262,591 are deemed by the government to have recovered. 

Vaccines have shown to be effective in preventing infection and serious illness.

Between Jan. 11 and Jan. 17, people not fully vaccinated with two doses of vaccine accounted for 25.9% of cases, and between Jan. 4 and Jan. 17, they accounted for 31.8% of hospitalizations.

The B.C. government estimates that 89.3% of eligible British Columbians, older than five years, have had at least one vaccine shot, while 83.4% of that eligible population is fully vaccinated with two jabs.

Provincial data show 4,451,945 B.C. residents have had at least one dose of vaccine, while 93.4% of those, or 4,159,043, are considered fully vaccinated with two doses. There were 53,350 people given booster, or third, doses of vaccine in the past day, for a total of 1,644,855.

The B.C. government last year estimated that the province's total population is 5,147,712. Hence, Glacier Media's calculation is that 86.4% of B.C.'s total population has had at least one dose of vaccine, and 80.8% of the province's total population has had two doses.  Nearly 32% have had their booster doses. •