B.C. health officials reported 1,035 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Tuesday, including 139 in intensive care, as the province recorded nine more deaths from the disease and 1,236 new cases.
The new numbers represent an decrease of 13 COVID-19 patients hospitalized within the last 24 hours and one more patient in the ICU.
Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are up by five per cent from last Tuesday, when 985 people were in hospital with the disease.
Due to a data reporting change introduced Jan. 14, month-to-month hospitalization comparisons won’t be available again until Feb. 14.
The number of patients in intensive care is down by about 3.4 per cent from 144 a week ago and up by 61.6 per cent from a month ago when 86 people were in the ICU.
Experts say hospitalizations are a more accurate barometer of the disease’s impact, as new case numbers in B.C. are likely much higher than reported, now that the province has hit its testing limit because of the Omicron surge.
There are currently 28,302 recorded active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C.
The provincial death toll from COVID-19 is now 2,625 lives lost out of 325,851 confirmed cases to date. All nine deaths recorded on Tuesday were in the Fraser Health authority.
There are a total of 55 active outbreaks in assisted living, long-term, and acute care facilities. Two new outbreaks were reported, while five were declared over by the province.
Acute care outbreaks include:
- Langley Memorial Hospital.
- Victoria General Hospital.
- Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
- Cowichan District Hospital.
- Kelowna General Hospital.
As of Tuesday, 89.9 per cent of those five and older in B.C. had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 84 per cent a second dose.
From Jan. 24 to 30, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 25.3 per cent of cases and from Jan. 17 to 30, they accounted for 30.8 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province.
A total of 2.15 million people have received a booster shot to date.
Hospitalizations in B.C. hitting peak, officials say
B.C. is continuing to record daily highs in hospitalization figures, due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, but officials say the peak number of hospitalizations has likely been reached.
On Monday, the province recorded more than 1,000 people in hospital from COVID-19 for the first time.
In the last week, 706 people have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19. The vast majority of those patients — more than 90 per cent — have been infected with the Omicron variant.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at a Tuesday news conference that the health-care system was still holding up despite being stretched.
Hospitalized patients are now dying at about half the rate they were during the Delta wave, she said. People over the age of 80 still face the highest risk of death from COVID-19.
Henry also announced changes to visitation rules for long-term care facilities on Tuesday. Two visitors at a time will now be permitted as long as they are vaccinated and wearing personal protective equipment.
B.C. will also prioritize use of its approximately 4,000 courses of the oral antiviral drug Paxlovid for those who are considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable.
Third doses of vaccine will now also be offered to those between the ages of 12 and 17 that are at high risk, as part of the initial immunization program, following recent changes by the federal immunization body.
Tuesday also saw the resumption of youth sports tournaments after a month-long hiatus, but school-based championships are still not allowed.