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COVID-19 in B.C.: 6 more deaths as ICU admissions drop to seven-month low

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Six more deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in B.C. over the last 24 hours, according to the provincial Ministry of Health.

The latest deaths came alongside a slight increase in hospitalizations, while the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units fell to its lowest level in more than seven months.

There were 276 test-positive COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals on Wednesday, up three from the day before, but still down from the 288 seen on Monday.

Hospitalization numbers in B.C. reflect a "census" of all patients with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, regardless of whether the coronavirus was the original reason for their admission to hospital.

Health officials have previously estimated that these "incidental" hospitalizations account for roughly 45 per cent of the total.

As of Wednesday, there were 43 COVID-19 patients in ICUs in B.C., down from 46 on Tuesday. The last time there were fewer than 43 coronavirus patients in B.C. ICUs was Aug. 14.

Of the six deaths reported Wednesday, three were in Northern Health, while the Interior, Fraser and Island health authorities saw one apiece.

Since the pandemic began, 2,996 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in B.C.

The ministry does not release information on the vaccination status of those included in the daily COVID-19 death toll, but data published on the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard has consistently shown that the unvaccinated are overrepresented, relative to their share of the provincial population. 

As of Wednesday, 90.8 per cent of eligible people ages five and older had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 87.3 per cent had received two doses.

Among adults, 59.3 per cent have received a third dose, also known as a booster.

Wednesday's update also included 291 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19. That figure includes only positive PCR tests, which are only administered to a small portion of the population.

Most B.C. residents who have COVID-19 symptoms do not qualify for a PCR test. Those who test positive using a rapid antigen test are encouraged to report their result to the BCCDC, but so far rapid test results have not been made public in B.C.

Still, while the number of new cases announced each day is not considered an accurate representation of the total number of newly infected people in the province, it has been trending upward in recent days.

The seven-day rolling average for published new cases in B.C. has risen slightly every day for the last 10 days. On Wednesday, it climbed from 228.7 to 231.9. Ten days ago, on March 21, the average was 202.4. 

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