Signs that B.C.'s hospital system could become inundated with COVID-19 patients continue to appear, as government data updates regularly report record levels those patients needing hospital care.
B.C. has 987 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, up 63 from three days ago. Of those, 129 are in intensive care units (ICUs), according to the government.
There were 367 new COVID-19 patients in B.C.'s hospitals in the past three days, while 304 were discharged. In total, 15,149 COVID-19 patients have needed hospital care so far in the pandemic.
Health Minister Adrian Dix earlier this month said B.C. hospitals have 11,582 acute-care beds and 728 ICU beds, including ones added during the pandemic, and those that need extra staff resources. He brought up the possibility that B.C. could, if needed, activate a new "field hospital" at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Dix's most recent occupancy data show 9,348 people in the province's acute-care hospital beds, and 446 people in ICU beds. That adds up to 9,794 of B.C.'s 12,310 total hospital beds filled. With beds unevenly distributed across the province, some regions have been harder hit than others. Dozens of patients have had to be airlifted out of Northern Health, for example, because of bed shortages in that region.
Another 24 people in B.C. died while suffering from COVID-19 in the past three days, raising the province's pandemic death toll to 2,553.
The number of active outbreaks in health-care facilities and seniors' homes has risen again, by a net total of two, to 64. One month ago, on Dec. 24, there were a total of two such outbreaks.
The six new health-care facility outbreaks are at:
• Evergreen House in North Vancouver;
• Louis Brier House and Hospital in Vancouver;
• Hamlets in Penticton;
• Mount Ida Mews in Salmon Arm;
• Crest View Residence in Creston; and
• Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo.
Outbreaks newly declared over include:
• Care Life Fleetwood in Surrey;
• Morgan Place in Surrey;
• St. Vincent's Langara in Vancouver; and
• The Heights at Mountain View in Victoria.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has stressed that getting fully vaccinated is an important safeguard against contracting COVID-19, and developing severe diseases. However, she said Jan. 21 that B.C.'s seniors are vulnerable to serious bouts of COVID-19 even if they are fully vaccinated.
"People who were aged 80 and over are 28 times more likely to be hospitalized [than those who are in their 20s] if they get infected with COVID 19, controlling for every other risk factor," she said.
Testing centres across B.C. were overwhelmed in December as health officials were diagnosing record-high numbers of new cases. As such, Henry told vaccinated people with mild illnesses to self-isolate and not get tested. That meant that the province's daily new case counts started to become unreliable.
Nonetheless, health officials detected 4,997 new infections in the past 24 hours, which lowers the province's number of known active infections by 2,175, to 31,822, as recoveries outpaced known new cases. The government tends to consider people as recovered if they have gone 10 days after first exhibiting symptoms. Many people deemed recovered have lingering health conditions.
With a months-low daily total of 8,514 tests conducted in the past 24 hours, however, the province's positive-test rate remains higher than it was on some days last week: 15.8%.
Henry has said that she believes that new infections in this wave of the pandemic have peaked, but that hospitalizations are likely to rise in the short term.
Provincial data show 4,465,993 B.C. residents have had at least one dose of vaccine, while 93.3% of those, or 4,166,318, are considered fully vaccinated with two doses. There were 120,893 people given booster, or third, doses of vaccine in the past three days, for a total of 1,874,956.
The B.C. government last year estimated that the province's total population is 5,147,712. Hence, Glacier Media's calculation is that 86.7% of B.C.'s total population has had at least one dose of vaccine, and 80.9% of the province's total population has had two doses. More than 36.4% have had their booster doses. •