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COVID-19 update: B.C. hospitalizations surge 35 per cent from Friday to Tuesday

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The number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals has surged 35 per cent over the last four days, the government revealed in the first full pandemic update since New Year's Eve.

There are now 298 hospitalized COVID-19 patients across the province, including 86 who are in intensive care, the Ministry of Health announced Tuesday.

That's up from 220 hospitalizations on Friday, with 73 patients in intensive care.

The majority of recent COVID-19 patients were not vaccinated, according to the province, even though that group makes up a dwindling minority of B.C.'s population. The unvaccinated made up 53.3 per cent of hospitalizations between Dec. 16 and 29, while the fully vaccinated made up 45 per cent.

"A lot of people will get sick and we are seeing that now," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a news conference earlier in the day. "But your vaccine will protect most people from serious illnesses and hospitalizations."

Just over 88 per cent of eligible B.C. residents age five and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 83 per cent have received two. Nearly 21 per cent of those age 12 and older have also had a booster dose.

Less than 15 per cent of B.C.'s population remains unvaccinated, including the babies, toddlers and young children who remain ineligible.

The province also announced 2,542 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Daily case numbers are believed to be severely under-reported due to limits in testing capacity, but Tuesday's update was still high enough to push B.C.'s seven-day average to a new all-time high of 3,285 cases per day.

Active cases also increased to a record 27,106, up more than 6,000 from Friday, and there have been four more coronavirus-related deaths during that period, bringing the provincial death toll to 2,427.

The Ministry of Health did not provide an updated total of Omicron cases, but Henry said the variant now makes up 80 per cent of infections in B.C.

She urged businesses to brace for major staffing shortages because of the unprecedented levels of transmission in the province, warning that workplaces could be down as much as one-third of staff at a time due to infections and exposures.

"We need to adapt businesses so we can operate at these reduced numbers," Henry said. "In the tug-of-war of transmission, Omicron has the advantage."

Officials said they are not planning additional COVID-19 restrictions like the ones implemented in Ontario and Quebec, but that the public must take personal precautions.

Individuals are also being asked to do their own contact-tracing in some instances. Henry said the speed at which Omicron spreads, combined with its shorter incubation period, has made effective contact-tracing impossible in B.C.

The widespread transmission has also led to a resurgence in outbreaks in health-care facilities. The Ministry of Health announced nine more on Tuesday, at Surrey Memorial Hospital, The Residence in Mission, Czorny Alzheimer Centre, Hawthorne Lodge, Joseph & Rosalie Segal Family Health Centre, Fraserview Retirement Community, Lakeview Care Centre, Mount Cartier Court and Victoria General Hospital, bringing the provincial total to 24.

 

 

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