B.C. records new high of 854 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 112 in critical care

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A COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia on Thursday, Jan .13, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
A COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia on Thursday, Jan .13, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

B.C. health officials reported 854 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Tuesday, including 112 in intensive care, as the province recorded two more deaths from the disease and 2,032 new cases.

With the additional cases, B.C. crossed the threshold of 300,000 cases since the pandemic began, for a total of 301,178 confirmed cases to date.

The new hospitalization numbers represent an increase of 35 COVID-19 patients hospitalized within the last 24 hours, including 13 more patients in the ICU.

The provincial death toll from COVID-19 in B.C. now stands at 2,492 lives lost.

COVID-19 waves in British Columbia

Due to a data reporting change introduced Friday, Jan. 14, week-to-week hospitalization comparisons won't be available again until Friday, Jan. 21.

The number of patients in intensive care is up by about 15.4 per cent from 97 a week ago and up by 51.3 per cent from a month ago when 74 people were in the ICU.

COVID-19 infections in B.C. by vaccination status, adjusted by population and age

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.

As of Tuesday, 21.6 per cent of COVID-19 tests in B.C. are coming back positive, according to the province's COVID-19 dashboard.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that anything above a five per cent test-positivity rate indicates a concerning level of community transmission.

Daily COVID-19 vaccination progress in B.C.

There are currently 37,224 recorded active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C.

There are a total of 53 active outbreaks in assisted living, long-term, and acute care facilities. Nine new outbreaks were declared on Tuesday, with six outbreaks declared over.

Acute care outbreaks include:

  • Surrey Memorial Hospital.

  • Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

  • Langley Memorial Hospital.

  • Burnaby Hospital.

  • Peace Arch Hospital.

  • Kelowna General Hospital.

  • Royal Jubilee Hospital.

As of Tuesday, 89.3 per cent of those five and older in B.C. had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 83.4 per cent a second dose.

From Jan. 10 to 16, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 24.9 per cent of cases and from Jan. 3 to 16, they accounted for 32.3 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province.

A total of 1.59 million people have received a booster shot to date.

Gyms to reopen starting Jan. 20

In a news conference on Tuesday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that gyms in B.C. would be allowed to gradually reopen starting on Thursday.

However, other public health restrictions — including bar closures and capacity restrictions on sporting events — are set to remain in place until at least Feb. 16.

The updated public health guidelines come as the province goes through its largest spike yet of COVID-19 hospitalizations due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

"We are still in a pandemic, as much as we would like to be over it," Henry said Tuesday during a news conference.

Numerous health authorities — including Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health, and Northern Health — said that multiple "non-urgent" surgeries are being pushed back due to staffing challenges arising from the province's fifth wave.

A spokesperson for Vancouver Coastal Health said the health authority had postponed 154 such surgeries in the last month, with 128 surgeries being postponed in Fraser Health.

School staff to disclose vaccination status

Teachers and support staff in B.C. schools must now report their COVID-19 vaccination status to their employer, according to a new public health order.

The order, which was signed by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and issued on Jan. 17, directs school boards to collect information on the vaccination status of their staff.

"A lack of information on the part of boards of education, independent school authorities and francophone education authorities and the medical health officer about the vaccination status of staff members in school settings interferes with the suppression of SARS-CoV-2 and constitutes a health hazard under the Public Health Act,'' said Henry in the written order.

The order also says children aged 5-11 are more likely to be infected because they have only recently become eligible for vaccination and it will take some time before they can be fully vaccinated.

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