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Serious COVID-19 infections keep dropping in B.C.

B.C. has 22 COVID-19 deaths in the past three days.
COVID-19 hospitalizations are significantly below levels seen a month ago

The number of British Columbians with serious COVID-19 infections continues to fall, as 549 people are now in hospitals with the disease, including 85 in intensive care units (ICUs).

That data for the final day of February contrasts with data on Jan. 31, when a record 1,048 people were fighting the disease in B.C. hospitals, including 138 in ICUs.

Sadly, 22 more people are known to have died from the disease in the past three days, raising the province's pandemic death toll to 2,873.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has stressed that the most vulnerable group for serious illness and death are seniors older than 80 years, regardless of vaccination status. 

That is why it is a concern that B.C. has 28 active outbreaks in health-care facilities and seniors' homes. This includes new outbreaks at Sun Pointe Village in Kelowna, and Fischer Place in 100 Mile House, while the outbreak at Trinity Care Centre in Penticton has been declared over.

Vaccinations are one way to prevent infection and serious illness.

Between Feb. 18 and Feb. 24, people not fully vaccinated with two doses accounted for 20.7 per cent of cases, according to government data. Between Feb. 11 and Feb. 24, those individuals accounted for 32.9 per cent of hospitalizations.

People without two doses of vaccine represent about 14% of B.C.'s total population.

The more detailed data for vaccinations is that 4,516,465 eligible B.C. residents have had at least one dose of vaccine, while 4,299,888 are considered fully vaccinated with two doses. There were 18,161 third, or booster shots provided in the past three days, for a total of 2,580,562.

Recent Statistics Canada data said that in the 2021 census, B.C.'s population had increased 7.6 per cent between 2016 and 2021, and that the new total number of residents is 5,000,879.

Glacier Media's calculation therefore is that 90.3 per cent of B.C.'s total population has had at least one dose of vaccine, and nearly 86 per cent of the province's total population has had two doses. More than 51.6 per cent have had their booster doses. 

Health officials have been telling vaccinated people with mild symptoms to self-isolate and not get tested in order to reserve testing capacity for those who have more serious cases or who are clinically vulnerable. As a result, Henry has called case count data "not accurate," and the province has stopped reporting data for how many people in B.C. they believe are actively infected, and how many are thought to have recovered.

The province still reports the number of presumed new cases, and in the past three days officials have confirmed 974 new cases. The number of tests was not immediately available. 

There are thought to have been at least 348,305 British Columbians who have contracted COVID-19 since the first case was detected in late January 2020. •