COVID-19 update: B.C. breaks hospitalization records again as curve continues bending downward
VANCOUVER -- British Columbia has broken COVID-19 hospitalization records once again as the province's epidemiological curve continues slowly bending downward.
Health officials announced 862 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, which caused the rolling weekly average to dip below 1,000 cases per day for the first time since April 7.
But the number of people battling the disease in hospital has climbed to a new high of 483, including a record 164 patients in intensive care.
In a joint written statement, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the ongoing surge in hospitalizations is putting "intense pressure" on frontline health-care workers.
"This is the result of our individual and collective actions from two weeks ago. What we do today will determine how we fare two weeks from now," they said.
"It is the small, simple things we do every day that make a difference – washing our hands, wearing a mask, staying away from others and not travelling if we do not need to. And, the time to do that is now."
Another seven people have also died from the disease. B.C. has now recorded a total of 121,751 cases of COVID-19 and 1,546 related deaths since the start the pandemic.
But case numbers have been slowing. An average of 983 infections have been identified per day over the last week, down from a high of 1,129 as of April 12. The province's active caseload has also dipped to 8,906, down from a record of 10,081 on April 16.
During her monthly modelling presentation last week, Henry noted that B.C.'s curve has been bending in the right direction, but said there is still a long way to go before the province can loosen its current restrictions, which are scheduled to remain in place through the May long weekend.
On Friday, the government is also introducing a new travel restriction barring people from moving between health authority regions for non-essential reasons. More details on the new order are expected to be released later this week.
Meanwhile, B.C. has continued its accelerated immunization program, with everyone aged 40 and up now eligible to receive a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a local pharmacy or one of 13 clinics set up in high-risk communities.
Another 42,302 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered since Tuesday's update, bringing the provincial total to 1,456,946. That includes 1,368,611 first doses – enough to protect nearly 27 per cent of the population – and 88,335 second doses.
Health officials are expecting to have vaccinated 60 per cent of B.C.'s eligible adult population by the end of May, and have pointed to other parts of the world where widespread vaccination has resulted in a major drop in cases.
"For each person who gets vaccinated, we are all safer. When your turn comes up for one of the three vaccines, it is your turn to go. We strongly urge you to book your appointment as soon as you can. This is one of the important ways for you to do your part," Henry and Dix said in their statement.
Everyone who is 30 years old and older can also now register for a vaccine through the age-based program, though it's unclear when people in that cohort may be called upon to receive their first dose.
The government's goal is to offer a dose of vaccine to every B.C. resident who wants one before July 1.