COVID-19 deaths in B.C. are starting to ramp up, even though the number of people with that disease in the province's hospitals is starting to level off.
The province counted 15 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours. The last time there were that many such deaths in a day was Jan. 21, 2021 – almost exactly one year ago. The last time that the COVID-19 daily death toll was higher in the province was Jan. 8, 2021, when 18 people were known to have lost their lives to the disease.
Data for the ages of those who died was not immediately available.
There have been times in the past year when the number of newly announced deaths was higher, but those counts were always for multiple days. Yesterday, health officials announced that there were 13 new COVID-19 deaths, which was the highest number for a day since October 22, when there were also 13 known deaths. That indicates that the higher death counts is not appearing to be a one-day phenomenon.
The deaths come as 891 people fight COVID-19 from the province's hospital beds. That is down by four from the record 895 set yesterday, and is the second-highest count in the pandemic. Unfortunately, those still in hospital are increasingly in intensive care units (ICUs).
There are more people fighting for their lives on ventilators in ICUs – 119 – than at any time since November 12, when there were 124. An age breakdown of those in ICU was not immediately available, although yesterday, 37.4% of the 115 people in ICU were aged 70 years or older. Another 45.2% were between 50 and 70 years old.
Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry earlier this week stressed that people aged older than 70 years form the highest-risk group for serious COVID-19 disease.
This is why it is worrying that the number of outbreaks in health-care facilities and seniors' homes keeps rising.
There are now 58 active outbreaks at those facilities, whereas one month ago, on December 20, there was only one such outbreak, at Lions Gate Hospital.
The eight new active outbreaks at those facilities include:
• Queen's Park Care Centre in New Westminster;
• Lakeshore Care Centre in Coquitlam;
• Baillie House in Maple Ridge;
• Bevan Lodge in Abbotsford;
• Westview Place in Penticton;
• Fir Park Village in Port Alberni;
• The Summit long-term care home in Victoria; and
• Parkwood Court in Victoria.
Outbreaks newly declared over are at:
• Kinsmen Lodge in Surrey;
• Chartwell Carlton Gardens in Burnaby;
• Amica White Rock in Surrey;
• Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock;
• Maple Ridge Seniors Village in Maple Ridge; and
• Kiwanis Care Centre in New Westminster.
Health officials' recent guidance to vaccinated individuals who have mild COVID-19 symptoms is to self-isolate and not get tested in order to not overwhelm testing sites. That directive has meant that daily and active case counts are likely inaccurate.
The official count is that health officials detected 2,150 new COVID-19 infections in the past day. That reduces the number of people actively infected to 34,835, from the record of 37,224 set two days ago.
Of the 305,715 known COVID-19 infections in the province since the first case was detected in January 2020, 265,765, or 86.9%, are deemed by the government to have recovered.
Vaccines have shown to be effective in preventing infection and serious illness.
Between Jan. 12 and Jan. 18, people not fully vaccinated with two doses of vaccine accounted for 27% of cases, and between Jan. 5 and Jan. 18, they accounted for 31% of hospitalizations.
The B.C. government estimates that 89.4% of eligible British Columbians, older than five years, have had at least one vaccine shot, while 83.5% of that eligible population is fully vaccinated with two jabs.
Provincial data show 4,455,046 B.C. residents have had at least one dose of vaccine, while 93.4% of those, or 4,161,148, are considered fully vaccinated with two doses. There were 55,351 people given booster, or third, doses of vaccine in the past day, for a total of 1,700,206.
The B.C. government last year estimated that the province's total population is 5,147,712. Hence, Glacier Media's calculation is that 86.5% 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. More than 33% have had their booster doses. •