COVID-19 update: B.C. adds 1,168 cases as hospitalizations reach new record
VANCOUVER -- British Columbia has broken its previous record for patients hospitalized with COVID-19, health officials revealed Wednesday.
There are now 397 people in hospital with the novel coronavirus, 120 of whom are in intensive care. That's up from a previous record of 381 set on Jan. 6.
In a joint written statement, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix also announced 1,168 newly identified cases of COVID-19, bringing the province's rolling weekly average to 1,126 per day.
Another six people have also died after catching the disease, putting B.C.'s death toll at 1,521.
Earlier on Wednesday, Dix cited increasing hospitalizations as one of the reasons health officials are expecting to extend at least some of the temporary COVID-19 restrictions announced on March 29.
They were originally scheduled to remain in place until April 19.
It's unclear how long those restrictions, which include a ban on indoor dining at restaurants, could last. Multiple restaurant industry groups that met with Henry on Tuesday said they came away from the talk expecting the ban could last past the Victoria Day long weekend.
Dix also said the government is expecting hospitalizations to continue to climb. He called hospitalizations a "lag indicator," meaning they reflect case numbers that were recorded several days prior. Last week, B.C. set new COVID-19 case records while announcing upwards of 1,200 infections three days in a row.
There was good news on the vaccination front Wednesday, however, when Health Canada declared the AstraZeneca vaccine safe and effective, despite an extremely rare risk of treatable blood clots. Provinces are still awaiting updated guidance on whether they can administer AstraZeneca to anyone under the age of 55.
"We are pleased to see today's Health Canada assessment and decision on the AstraZeneca vaccine. We've been following this closely, and we await the recommendations from the National Advisory Council on Immunization to determine how to best use this vaccine going forward to further enhance our protection," Henry and Dix said.
B.C. has administered a record 41,839 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccinces since Tuesday's update, for a provincial total of 1,190,832 shots.
That includes 1,103,012 first doses – enough to vaccinate about 21 per cent of the population – and 87,820 second doses.
Officials did not announce any new outbreaks Wednesday. About 90 per cent of all COVID-19 cases identified so far in B.C. have recovered.