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Record 990 COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals

Nine more die from COVID-19 in B.C. in past day, raising provincial death toll to 2,597.
COVID test - getty images
A health official conducts a COVID-19 test

B.C.'s number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals today reached a new record high of 990, up a net total of 13 from yesterday. 

Of those, 141 are in intensive care units (ICUs), which is the same number as yesterday.

Health Minister Adrian Dix at an afternoon press conference that as of yesterday, there were 9,231 patients in B.C.'s 11,582 acute-care hospital beds – a 79.7% occupancy rate. B.C.'s 728 ICU beds had 474 people, for a 65.1% occupancy rate. Pre-pandemic, B.C.'s hospitals were operating at a 103.5% occupancy rate, Dix has said many times during the pandemic. 

Nine more people are known to have passed away in the past day while infected with COVID-19, raising B.C.'s pandemic death toll to 2,597.

An age breakdown of today's deaths was not immediately provided. 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry today said that about 40% of recent COVID-19 deaths in B.C. were in long-term care facilities. Some young people have died, but "most of the people who are dying outside of those [long-term care] outbreaks are older people with underlying illnesses," she said earlier today.

There is significant churn in the active outbreaks at health-care facilities and seniors' homes. Seven new outbreaks were declared in the past day, while 10 outbreaks were declared over. That reduces the number of active outbreaks in those facilities to 58.

Henry underscored the significance of outbreaks in those homes.

"Those people who are most likely to end up in hospital, to have severe illness, or to die from COVID-19 have been people who are older," she said. "Age has, across the board, been the number one most important risk factor for having adverse effects." 

Testing centres across B.C. were overwhelmed in December, as health officials were diagnosing record-high numbers of new cases. Health officials then told vaccinated people with mild illnesses to self-isolate and not get tested. Some people who went to testing centres were sent away without take-home tests if they did not meet certain criteria. The result is that the province's number of known tests is not seen as a reliable statistic. 

Nonetheless, health officials detected 1,634 infections in the past day. That pushes the number of known active infections above the 30,000 threshold, to 30,012. The number of active cases in B.C. fell below 30,000 yesterday for the first time in more than three weeks.

Today is the two-year anniversary of health officials announcing the first COVID-19 case in B.C. – a man in his 40s who had recently returned from Wuhan, China, where the virus is thought to have first appeared. Back then, the virus was known as 2019-nCoV.

Provincial data show 4,474,039 B.C. residents have had at least one dose of vaccine, while 93.3 per cent of those, or 4,174,992 are considered fully vaccinated with two doses. There were 40,130 people given booster, or third, doses of vaccine in the past day, which was enough to push the total past the two-million mark: 2,033,321.

The B.C. government last year estimated that the province's total population is 5,147,712. Hence, Glacier Media's calculation is that almost 86.9 per cent of B.C.'s total population has had at least one dose of vaccine, and 81.1 per cent of the province's total population has had two doses.  Slightly more than 38.7 per cent have had their booster doses. •