COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU occupancy hit new record levels in B.C.

Five more people have died from the disease in the past day, raising B.C.'s death toll to 1,576

Health Minister Adrian Dix provides updates on COVID-19 in B.C. | Photo: B.C. government

B.C. on April 28 set records for the most COVID-19 patients in hospitals, and in intensive care units (ICU), according to new provincial data.

The number of those hospitalized rose by a net total of 15 people, to 515, while the number of ICU patients rose by seven overnight, to 171. Five people are listed as having died from the disease in the past 24 hours, and it was not clear if they all had been in hospitals. 

The new deaths raise the province's death toll from the disease to 1,576. 

Of the 127,889 people known to have contracted COVID-19 in B.C. since the first case was detected in January, 2020, more than 92.3%, or 118,057 individuals are deemed by the province to have recovered. 

In the past day, an additional 841 infections were identified, which is higher than in each of the past two days, but below the record of 1,293 people identified as being infected in a single day, on April 8.

Some good news is that the number of people known to be actively battling infections has declined in each of the past three provincial data updates. At 8,009, that number is the lowest that it has been since April 1, when 7,571 people were known to be battling active infections in the province.

B.C. has lowered the age threshold for residents to get vaccinated to 30, for those who live in one of the province's hot-spot regions for virus transmission. People lined up for hours yesterday in Coquitlam, despite that city not being on the province's list of hot spots. They also went to Cloverdale Recreation Centre in Surrey for a chance to get the AstraZenecavaccine. 

To be eligible for these vaccine jabs, people are supposed to live in the following hot spots of eligibility in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions:
• Brittania Beach;
• D'arcy;
• East Newton;
• Fleetwood;
• Kensington;
• North Delta;
• North Surrey;
• Panorama;
• Pinecrest Estates;
• Port Coquitlam;
• South Langley Township;
• Squamish;
• Whalley;
• West Abbotsford; and
• West Newton.

One other hot spot that the province has listed is Dawson Creek in the Northern Health region, and a vaccine clinic could be set up in that city.

Thirtysomethings who live in hot-spot regions are also allowed to book appointments for AstraZeneca jabs at participating pharmacies. 

People aged 59 years old, and older, are eligible to book appointments to receive Pfizer or a Moderna vaccine shots through the province's age-based vaccination campaign, and Health Minister Adrian Dix said that people aged 58 and older will be able to book appointments starting tonight. 

People who are at least 18 years old are eligible to register for that program, and they will be alerted once they are eligible to book an appointment. 

Despite this push for more people to get vaccinated, B.C.'s daily total of new vaccinations was less than 75% of its April 16 high-water tally of 46,227 doses, provided to 46,157 people, with 70 others getting second doses.

In the past 24 hours, B.C. health officials provided 34,281 doses of vaccine to 34,013 new people, with 268 others getting second doses. In total, since the province's first vaccine jab in an arm on December 16, there have been 1,705,409 doses provided to 1,615,684 people, with 89,725 others getting needed second doses. 

Dix and provincial health officer Bonnie Henry in a joint statement provided no new information about mutant strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

Provincial officials have stopped conducting full genome sequencing on all newly detected positive COVID-19 cases as a way to determine all cases of so-called variants of concern, which are thought to spread more easily, and may lead to more severe disease, and may be resistant to vaccines. 

Health officials are instead spending time looking for potential vaccine failures, and reinfections, Henry said earlier this month.

The outbreak at Sunset Manor in Chilliwack has been declared over. 

That means that there are now seven active COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term living, or seniors' homes in B.C. They are:
• Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert;
• Cottonwoods Care Centre in Kelowna.
• Craigdarroch Care Home in Victoria.
• Dufferin Care Centre in Coquitlam; 
• Mount St. Mary in Victoria; 
• Orchard Haven in Keremeos; and
• Sandalwood Retirement Resort in Kelowna.

The outbreak at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital in Nanaimo has also been declared over, leaving six hospitals in B.C. with active COVID-19 outbreaks. They are:
• Abbotsford Regional Hospital in Abbotsford;
• Dawson Creek and District Hospital in Dawson Creek;
• Prince Rupert Regional Hospital in Prince Rupert;
• Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey;
• UBC Hospital in Vancouver; and
• Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom