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COVID-19 weekend recap: B.C. reports 24 deaths, new hospitalization record


British Columbia recorded another 24 deaths related to COVID-19 over the weekend, as the number of test-positive patients in hospital neared 1,000.

The Ministry of Health also announced nearly 5,000 new cases on Monday, though infection numbers are not currently considered accurate due to the province's revamped testing strategy, which mostly prioritizes people who are vulnerable to severe illness.

The 4,997 cases identified since Friday afternoon dropped B.C.'s seven-day average down to 1,982 cases per day, marking the first time it's been below 2,000 since Dec. 27. Despite the unreliability of daily case numbers, health officials said earlier this month that they believe transmission is declining, based on wastewater testing.

The province's active caseload also fell to 31,822, down about 2,200 cases from Friday.

But the latest coronavirus-related deaths pushed B.C.'s seven-day average up to nine deaths per day, the highest it's been in almost a full year.

Total hospitalizations also increased by about 60 over the weekend, reaching a new record high of 987. That includes so-called "incidental" cases in which a patient is admitted to hospital for reasons unrelated to COVID-19 but tests positive during routine screening. Additionally, some of those counted in the total contracted COVID-19 as part of an acute-care outbreak.

Earlier this month, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry shared a case study from Vancouver Coastal Health that found 45 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations were incidental. She said the situation was probably similar at other hospitals across the province.

The number of intensive care patients with COVID-19 decreased by one, to 129.

The unvaccinated are still over-represented in B.C.'s hospitalization numbers, according to the ministry. That group made up approximately 26 per cent of people hospitalized between Jan. 7 and 20, despite accounting for less than 14 per cent of the population.

Adjusting for age, the unvaccinated were hospitalized at a rate of 81.7 people per 100,000 population during that time period, compared to 18.7 per 100,000 among the fully vaccinated.

So far, 89.6 per cent of eligible B.C. residents age five and up have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 83.6 per cent have received two. Just over 43 per cent of adults have also received a booster dose.

There have now been 313,076 cases of COVID-19 identified across B.C. since the start of the pandemic, though the actual number is likely much higher, as many people were not been tested. Of those known to have had the novel coronavirus, 276,529 have recovered.

A total of 2,553 people have died. Fraser Health recorded 18 of the 24 coronavirus-related deaths that took place from Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon.

Three people who died were residents of the Vancouver Coastal Health area, two lived in Northern Health, and one was in the Interior.

The Health Ministry did not provide details on the vaccination status of the most recently deceased.

Similarly, Fraser Health saw the highest number of new cases added over the weekend.

Of the total, the Health Ministry said 1,702 were in that region – B.C.'s most populous. Another 1,251 cases were confirmed through testing in Interior Health, 862 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 626 in Island Health and 555 in Northern Health.

Also included in B.C.'s first COVID-19 update of the week was that the province is now dealing with outbreaks at 64 health-care facilities. The latest outbreaks were declared at Evergreen House, Louis Brier Home and Hospital, Hamlets at Penticton, Mount Ida Mews, Crestview Village and Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence.

Despite the climbing number of outbreaks and hospitalizations in B.C., officials announced last week that the province had removed minimum self-isolation times for many people believed to have COVID-19, a move that has prompted sharp criticism, including from disability advocates.

Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are scheduled to hold another live update on COVID-19 at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. CTV News will be streaming the event live.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Andrew Weichel Top Stories

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