Someone died of COVID-19 every 3.3 hours over the weekend in B.C.
B.C. recorded another 22 deaths related to COVID-19 over the weekend, as the number of test-positive patients in hospital topped 800.
The update from the Ministry of Health means from Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon, someone died in relation to COVID-19 every 3.3 hours, on average.
Nine of the deaths were recorded in the Fraser Health region, six were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, four were in the Interior Health region and three were in the Island Health region.
The provincial death toll now stands at 2,490.
The latest fatalities increased B.C.'s seven-day average to 6.29 deaths per day. Just two weeks ago, the average was holding steady at 1.29 per day.
It's unclear whether the climbing numbers of COVID-19 deaths are linked to the recent resurgence in outbreaks in long-term care homes and assisted living facilities.
Hospitalization numbers also jumped significantly over the weekend, climbing from 649 on Friday to 819 on Monday. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has noted that number is an "overestimate" of COVID-19's impact on hospitals, as it includes so-called incidental cases – people who were hospitalized for reasons unrelated to the virus but tested positive during routine screening.
A case study of Vancouver Coastal Health's COVID-19 hospitalizations in December found 45 per cent were incidental, and officials expect the situation is similar in other regions.
The number of patients in intensive care has increased by four since Friday, to 99.
Another 5,625 cases of COVID-19 were recorded over the weekend as well, though officials have been shifting focus away from infection numbers, in part because B.C.'s limited testing capacity has been unable to keep up with transmission.
Going by those numbers alone, the province's seven-day average for cases has decreased to 2,222 per day – down from an all-time high of 3,407 per day recorded on Jan. 5.
While those numbers are said to be unreliable, Henry revealed Friday that officials believe transmission for the Omicron wave has already peaked and started to decrease, as evidenced by the province's ongoing monitoring of COVID-19 levels in wastewater.
The virus continues to impact health-care facilities in the meantime. Another eight such outbreaks were declared over the weekend, at Mayfair Senior Living, MSA Manor, Heritage Square, Salvation Army Sunset Lodge, James Bay Care Centre, The Heights at Mt. View, Luther Court and Selkirk Village Assisted Living. Four others were declared over, leaving 50 active outbreaks across the health-care system.
While the Omicron variant has proven capable of spreading quickly, even among the fully vaccinated, officials have stressed that having at least two doses of vaccine still greatly reduces the chance of getting seriously ill. Modelling data presented by Henry on Friday indicated the unvaccinated are 12 times more likely to require hospitalization due to COVID-19, 37 times more likely to require intensive care, and 40 times more likely to die than others in their age group who are fully immunized.
So far, 89.2 per cent of eligible B.C. residents age five and up have had at least one dose and 83.4 per cent have had two. Nearly 36 per cent of eligible adults have also received a booster.
On Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are scheduled to address B.C.'s current COVID-19 restrictions, at least some of which are expected to remain in place. CTV News will be streaming the event live at 1:30 p.m.
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