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B.C. COVID-19 update: 6 deaths, hospitalizations decline slightly

A disposable face mask is seen in this file photo from Island Health. (Island Health/Facebook) A disposable face mask is seen in this file photo from Island Health. (Island Health/Facebook)

The number of test-positive COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals declined slightly on Thursday, according to the Ministry of Health.

There were 255 patients in hospital as of the latest update, down three from Wednesday. There were also six deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Thursday's update.

Wednesday's slight increase in hospitalizations marked the first time the number had gone up since early February, and came as data from other provinces showed signs of increased transmission of the coronavirus. 

B.C.'s hospitalization total includes so-called "incidental" cases, in which people are admitted to hospital for other reasons and test positive for COVID-19 during routine screening.

While the ministry does not differentiate between incidental hospitalizations and those caused by serious cases of COVID-19 on a daily basis, health officials have previously estimated that about 45 per cent of cases are incidental.

As of Thursday, there were 52 patients in intensive care units in B.C., an increase of three from Wednesday.

Since the pandemic began, the province has seen 2,981 COVID-19-related deaths. Three of the latest deaths occurred in Fraser Health, two in Northern Health and one in Interior Health.

The ministry does not share the vaccination status of those included in the daily death count, but data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control continues to show that unvaccinated people are overrepresented among COVID-19-related deaths, hospitalizations and ICU admissions, relative to their share of the provincial population. 

As of Thursday, 90.8 per cent of eligible B.C. residents ages five and older had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 87.1 per cent had received two shots.

Among adults, 59 per cent have received a third dose, also known as a booster shot.

Health officials across Canada have ended pandemic-related public health restrictions as the Omicron wave has receded. While signs of increased transmission linked to Omicron's BA.2 sub-variant are beginning to emerge, it's unclear exactly how large a new wave of infections could be.

Given that BA.2 appears to be more infectious than Omicron, but does not appear to cause more severe illness, Canada's top doctor has said the country's high immunization rate should keep hospitalizations at manageable levels even if cases rise.

In B.C., the number of lab-confirmed cases has been rising. Thursday's update included 271 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, the third straight day that the daily case count has been higher than the rolling seven-day average, which now stands at 214.9.

Notably, B.C.'s reported case numbers only include lab-based PCR tests. Most residents of the province do not qualify for such tests under the current testing criteria, even if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

Adult B.C. residents can pick up rapid antigen tests for free at participating pharmacies, but positive rapid test results are self-reported to the Ministry of Health, which has so far not published them. Top Stories

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