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COVID-19 update: B.C. reports first increase in hospitalizations in weeks


For the first time in weeks, the B.C. government has reported an increase in the number of COVID-19-positive patients in hospital.

There are 258 of those patients hospitalized across the province as of Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health.

While that's an increase of just four patients from Tuesday's count, every pandemic update from the ministry since Feb. 7 has reported a decrease.

Some of the people included in B.C.'s total were hospitalized for reasons unrelated to COVID-19, then tested positive on routine screening.

One new coronavirus-related death has been reported in the Northern Health region, leaving the provincial death toll at 2,975.

The government also announced another 269 confirmed COVID-19 cases, which pushed B.C.'s seven-day average to 210 per day – the second increase in as many days.

Daily case numbers only track the results of PCR tests, which are no longer available to most people with coronavirus symptoms. There has been a slight increase in test-positivity, however, meaning that a higher percentage of those who do qualify are being found to have COVID-19.

While some jurisdictions have seen new surges in transmission fuelled by the Omicron subvariant BA.2, it's unclear whether B.C., which recently relaxed a number of pandemic restrictions, could be headed in the same direction.

Dr. Sarah Otto of the independent B.C. COVID-19 Modelling Group said the province is currently in a "honeymoon period" between waves, and it's difficult to gauge how long it will last.

"It depends a lot on just how much people continue to mask and take those protective measures," Otto told CTV News.

B.C.'s high vaccination rate, and the number of people who have been infected with Omicron over recent months, could also lessen the severity of another surge, Otto added.

"If you've gotten vaccinated and (had) Omicron, that's a really protective effect against future infections," she said.

So far, 90.8 per cent of eligible residents age five and up have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 87.1 per cent have had two. Among B.C. adults, 58.9 per cent have also had a booster shot.

While few people qualify for PCR testing, the government has been steadily expanding eligibility for free COVID-19 rapid tests. Everyone 18 and older can now pick up one kit containing five tests from participating pharmacies every 28 days. 

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Penny Daflos Top Stories

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