Hospitalizations dip to level not seen in weeks in B.C.

The number of patients in British Columbia hospitals who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 is the lowest its been in the province for weeks.

An update from the Health Ministry Tuesday included that 523 people in hospital have the disease, the lowest that metric has been since Jan. 12.

Eighty-three of those patients are being treated in intensive care units.

Overall hospitalization numbers include both patients suffering from severe COVID-19 illness and those who tested positive incidentally after being admitted for unrelated reasons.

Tuesday’s written update also included that no new deaths were attributed to the disease in the 24-hour period, and no new health-care facility outbreaks had been reported.

Another 466 cases were added to the provincial tally, bringing the total number since the start of the pandemic to 348,711.

Of the latest cases, about two-in-five were recorded in the Interior Health region. Another fifth of cases were in Island Health, and Fraser Health saw a similar share.

The Vancouver Coastal and Northern health authorities saw just 31 and 45 cases confirmed, respectively.

Cases are no longer considered an accurate indication of the severity of the pandemic as most people are being told to forgo testing, even if they have symptoms. Still, health officials say transmission is down in much of B.C. based on data collected other ways, including through the analysis of wastewater.

Speaking at a news conference earlier on Tuesday, the provincial health officer said this data will be used to determine next steps in the pandemic, including the loosening of restrictions ahead of spring break.

People who’ve decided not to receive the vaccine continue to make up the highest rates per 100,000 population of people in hospital.

According to the health ministry, after adjusting for age unvaccinated patients were hospitalized at a rate of 37.3 per 100,000 population in the past two weeks, compared to the rates of partially vaccinated (18.3) and fully vaccinated (6.1) patients.

Those without any doses of vaccine also had the highest rate of cases in B.C. over the last two weeks. The rate of unvaccinated cases was 115 per 100,000 population, compared to 54.8 partially vaccinated and 53.4 fully vaccinated.

According to Tuesday’s news release, 90.6 per cent of eligible people in B.C. have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Looking at adults only, 93.6 per cent have at least one shot, while 91.2 per cent have both primary doses. Health officials said 57.7 per cent have also received a third dose or booster shot.

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