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B.C. COVID-19 update: Number of ICU patients reaches 12-week high

The number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. intensive care units has reached a 12-week high, the government revealed Tuesday.

Of the 985 test-positive patients hospitalized across the province, 144 are in ICU – an increase of 15 from Monday. The last time that number topped 140 was Halloween.

Total hospitalizations reached an all-time record of 987 this week, though that number is considered an "overestimate" of COVID-19's impact, as it includes all incident cases in which a patient is admitted to hospital for reasons unrelated to the virus and tests positive during routine screening.

The Ministry of Health also announced one new death related to COVID-19 on Tuesday, well below the average of nearly nine per day recorded over the last week.

Another 1,446 cases have been confirmed over the last 24 hours, bringing the provincial total to 314,522, though officials have shifted their focus from daily infection numbers, as most healthy British Columbians are no longer advised to get tested if they believe they are sick.

Earlier in the day, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the government suspects transmission is decreasing, based on test-positivity and other surveillance data. Most people are also experiencing mild symptoms, something officials have credited in part to B.C.'s high vaccination rate.

"We know that vaccines make a difference, a tremendous difference," Henry said. "Now, of course, there's more and more data that shows the booster doses also protect against infection, even with Omicron."

Officials also announced they are extending the B.C. Vaccine Card program until June 30, though Henry said it could end earlier if circumstances improve. The system requires proof of vaccination for a variety of activities, including going to the movies and dining in restaurants.

"As we move through this period, it will, I expect, no longer be necessary. But right now, it is one of those important tools we have," she said.

So far, 89.6 per cent of eligible B.C. residents age five and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 83.6 per cent have received two. Among adults, 44.2 per cent have also received a booster dose.

The latest cases indicate transmission remains high in every B.C. health authority, though some are experiencing a higher rate than others. Northern Health recorded 147 of the cases announced Tuesday, which translates into 48.6 infections per 100,000 residents – the highest rate in the province.

Interior Health recorded 319 cases, or 38.9 per 100,000 residents. Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Health and Island Health saw rates of 24.8, 26, and 18.8 per 100,000 residents, respectively.

There were no new health-care facility outbreaks announced Tuesday, and one has been declared over, leaving 63 across the province. Most of the active outbreaks are in long-term care homes. Top Stories

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