COVID-19 hospitalizations approaching peak levels as B.C. reports 525 new cases and 3 more deaths

B.C. health officials announced 525 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and three more deaths, as hospitalization numbers reach levels not seen since the spring.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are 5,133 active cases of people infected with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus in B.C. With today’s deaths, the provincial death toll stands at 284.

There are currently 142 people in hospital, 50 more than last Tuesday, with 46 in intensive care. That rapid increase — more than 50 per cent in just one week — is pushing numbers close to the record high of 149 COVID-19 patients who were in hospital on April 2.

Tuesday’s numbers continue to show that this phase of the pandemic is largely concentrated in the Lower Mainland, where strict new guidelines are now in place. Of the new cases, 92 per cent were in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions.

“We need to break the chains of transmission and slow the surge of COVID-19 cases — especially in the regions and locations of highest spread,” Henry and Dix said.

“The regional health authority restrictions are a short-term pause on non-essential activities to ensure we can maintain capacity within our health-care system and continue important essential activities.”

In an interview with CBC earlier Tuesday, Dix was asked about the possibility of bringing in stricter measures once the 14-day period for the regional restrictions has ended.

He didn’t rule out the prospect of a red alert-level shutdown like Manitoba has implemented, but said what happens next will depend on whether B.C. can get transmission and hospitalization rates under control.

“I’m not drawing conclusions before we see the facts,” he told B.C. Today host Michelle Eliot.

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