B.C. reports 173 more people in hospital with COVID-19, 4 more in the ICU and 22 additional deaths over 3 days
B.C. health officials reported 819 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Monday, including 99 in intensive care, as the province recorded 22 more deaths from the disease and 5,625 new cases over the weekend.
The new numbers represent an increase of 173 COVID-19 patients hospitalized within the last three days, including four more patients in the ICU.
Due to a data reporting change introduced Friday, week-to-week hospitalization comparisons won’t be available again until this Friday.
Health officials had said during a Friday morning briefing they expected a spike in hospitalization figures after changing the method of calculating COVID-related hospitalizations to include people who were admitted for other reasons but tested positive for the disease.
The number of patients in intensive care is up by about 4.2 per cent from 95 a week ago and up by 33.7 per cent from a month ago when 74 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 35,985 recorded active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C.
The provincial death toll from COVID-19 is now 2,490 lives lost out of 299,146 confirmed cases to date.
There are a total of 50 active outbreaks in assisted living, long-term, and acute care facilities. Eight new outbreaks were declared, while four were declared over.
Acute care outbreaks include:
- Surrey Memorial Hospital.
- Eagle Ridge Hospital.
- Abbotsford Regional Hospital.
- Langley Memorial Hospital.
- Laurel Place.
- Burnaby Hospital.
- Peace Arch Hospital.
- Kelowna General Hospital.
- Royal Jubilee Hospital.
As of Monday, 89.2 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. 7 to 13, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 22.7 per cent of cases and from Dec. 31 to Jan. 13, they accounted for 33.7 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province.
A total of 1.54 million people have received a booster shot to date.
Provincial health orders extended
Public health orders restricting gatherings and closing gyms, among other things, have been extended indefinitely by the province.
The move comes ahead of a planned news conference on Tuesday, where health officials are expected to modify some or all of the orders.
The orders first went into effect on Dec. 22 and were set to expire at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
It is unknown which orders will be removed and which ones will be extended. The government said the “indefinite” extension was to provide time for officials to transition to their new strategy.
Antiviral drugs for COVID-19 patients
On Monday, Health Canada approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 therapeutic drug for use among those aged 18 and older.
Pfizer’s Paxlovid, an antiviral prescribed by a doctor and administered in a pill form, is designed to help the body fight off the SARS-CoV-2 virus, reduce symptoms from an infection and shorten the period of illness. Pfizer’s laboratory studies indicate that the drug is likely to work against the Omicron variant.
The product has been hailed as a pandemic “game changer” by some doctors because it could reduce hospitalizations and deaths among COVID-19 patients.
Canada has placed an order for an initial quantity of one million treatment courses. Some of that supply will start to arrive in the coming weeks.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said Monday that the federal government is working to “firm up a delivery schedule” and officials are hoping the pills will be available “as soon as possible.”