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COVID-19 update: Hospitalizations up again as B.C. nears end of daily reporting

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The B.C. government announced another increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations Tuesday, while preparing to transition away from its current system of daily data reporting.

The Ministry of Health said there are now 334 test-positive patients hospitalized across the province, up from 321 on Monday. That total includes incidental cases, such as people who were admitted to hospital for reasons unrelated to COVID-19 but tested positive on routine screening.

Overall hospitalizations have been increasing since late March, but there hasn't been a corresponding surge in the number of patients in intensive care. That figure decreased by one on Tuesday, bringing the total to 35.

Earlier in the day, health officials confirmed they are moving forward with the lifting of B.C. Vaccine Card requirements this Friday, as planned. 

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry shared updated modelling indicating the province could see a surge in transmission of about 10 to 10 per cent over the next month, but the government believes a mixture of widespread vaccine protection and natural immunity will prevent hospitals from getting overwhelmed.

So far, 90.9 per cent of eligible B.C. residents have received one dose of vaccine, and 87.4 per cent have received two. Among eligible adults, 59.5 per cent have also had a booster shot.

B.C. is preparing to offer fourth doses to select vulnerable groups as well, including people age 70 and over living in care homes or in the community. 

Tuesday's update from the Ministry of Health included 258 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed through PCR tests, which are no longer available to most people, even if they have symptoms.

The government has not provided a daily update on coronavirus-related deaths since Friday, citing the upcoming switch to weekly COVID-19 updates on April 7.

Henry said the new automated updates will include a count of every person who died while coronavirus-positive over the preceding 30 days, something she acknowledged will initially result in an "over-counting" of deaths

The previously announced change to weekly reporting has been met with some pushback, and renewed concerns about government transparency during the pandemic.

B.C. Green leader Sonia Furstenau slammed the province Tuesday for offering less data at a time when the Omicron subvariant BA.2 has already fuelled increases in transmission and hospitalizations.

"This government is desperate to maintain its narrative around its management of this pandemic, and is doing so by limiting testing, monitoring, and reporting. They have closed down community monitoring at the beginning of a sixth wave," Furstenau said in a statement. 

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