B.C.'s COVID-19 hospitalizations up 96% since end of 2021

B.C. has not had this many hospitalized COVID-19 patients since November 5

A health official conducts a COVID-19 test | Photo: Getty Images / Morsa Images

The number of British Columbians with serious enough COVID-19 infections to need hospital care has soared 95.9% in the first 10 days of 2022, to the highest level seen since November 5. 

B.C. has 431 such patients, including 95 whose conditions are bad enough to need care in intensive care units (ICUs). B.C.'s record for most COVID-19 hospitalizations at one time was set April 28, when 515 COVID-19 patients were fighting for their lives in B.C. hospitals. 

B.C.'s practice for counting hospital patients with COVID-19 is largely those who entered the hospital because of COVID-19 and have not yet gone a sufficient time period – usually 10 days following the onset of symptoms – to be considered no longer infectious. It does not include many people who contracted COVID-19 while in hospital, nor those who are no longer infectious but need hospital care.

Hospitalization data has become an increasingly important data point in determining the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in B.C. given that Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has for weeks told vaccinated people who have mild symptoms to isolate and not go to testing centres. The result of that advice is that many infections are likely not recorded by provincial officials. 

Vaccination is seen as a good way to prevent serious illness, although an increasing share of hospitalizations in B.C. are fully vaccinated people. Two months ago, people not fully vaccinated represented 26.3% of the population and were responsible for 70.8% of COVID-19 hospitalizations in B.C. The proportion of not fully vaccinated people in B.C. has since shrunk to 19.5% of the general population, with those people responsible for 38.8% of hospitalizations. 

People who are fully vaccinated are also contracting COVID-19 in a slightly higher proportion compared with those who are not fully vaccinated. Between December 31 and January 6, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 17.8% of new cases.

Henry on January 7 downplayed the significance of the daily case counts, as an indicator of the scope of the pandemic. 

"We've been trying to move away from the daily case counts as an indicator of what's happening because they only reflect case rates and testing rates in different areas," she said. "The seven day rolling average gives us a better sense, because that takes into account daily variations that we see in different testing centres."

Total active cases is another metric that includes many days' worth of data.  B.C. today set a record with 34,551 known active COVID-19 infections. This comes after a weekend that included 2,573 new cases on January 8, 2,287 new cases on January 9, and 2,106 new cases in the past 24 hours. The positive-test rate in the past day was 18.45%, which is the lowest rate since December 24.

Another seven people are known to have died from their bout with COVID-19 in the past three days, raising the province's pandemic death toll to 2,446.

Of the 283,841 people in B.C. known to have contracted COVID-19 since the first case was detected in January 2020, 243,953 – nearly 86% – are considered by the government to have recovered. In most cases, that recovery status is determined when patients go 10 days after first exhibiting symptoms. Many people deemed recovered, however, continue to suffer long-term health problems. 

There are 4,423,328 B.C. residents who have had at least one dose of vaccine, while 93.7% of those, or 4,144,682, are considered fully vaccinated with two doses.

Most new doses of vaccine are third doses. Another 12,834 British Columbians received first doses of vaccine in the past three days, while 2,993 received second doses. There were 108,352 third, or booster, doses provided in the past three days, for a total of 1,197,440.

The B.C. government estimates that 88.7% of eligible British Columbians, older than five years, have had at least one vaccine shot, while 83.2% of that eligible population is fully vaccinated with two jabs.

The B.C. government last year estimated that the province's total population is 5,147,712. Hence, Glacier Media's calculation is that nearly 85.9% of B.C.'s total population has had at least one dose of vaccine, and nearly 80.5% of the province's total population has had two doses. 

Older British Columbians have shown to be more vulnerable to serious infections, and deaths, so it is a worrying development that the number of health-care facilities, seniors' care homes and retirement communities are increasingly developing outbreaks.

B.C. has 43 active outbreaks at those facilities, including seven discovered in the past three days:
• Morgan Place in Surrey;
• Maple Ridge Seniors Village;
• Dania Home in Burnaby;
• Amica White Rock;
• German Canadian Benevolent Society Home in Vancouver;
• Crofton Manor in Vancouver; and
• Sun Pointe Village in Kelowna. 

Outbreaks at Guildford Seniors Village in Surrey and Victoria General Hospital have been declared over. •