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B.C. sees record COVID-19 hospitalizations; 22 new deaths

B.C. last week broadened the way that it counts the number of those in hospitals.
COVID hospital - getty - ruben bonilla gonzalo
A person with COVID-19 receives care in hospital

B.C. has a record 819 COVID-19 patients in hospitals – 173 more than on Friday, using the same new broader way of counting those patients. 

Provincial officials on Friday started to include in COVID-19 hospitalization counts people who caught the disease in hospital after being admitted for different reasons. The previous counting system only included people who entered hospital for COVID-19 treatment and had not yet gone 10 days after the symptoms first appeared, as that time-time frame meant they were no longer considered infectious. 

People are now counted as COVID-19 hospital patients if they remain in hospital after being considered no longer infectious. Out-of-province patients and those who normally reside internationally are also now counted in B.C.'s COVID-19 hospitalization counts. 

Changing the counting system meant that COVID-19 hospitalizations in B.C. jumped to a record 646 on January 14, after being at a record high of 534, using the old counting system, on January 13. 

Of the 819 COVID-19 patients now in B.C. hospitals, 99 are in intensive care units (ICUs).

Deaths from COVID-19 have also trended upward, with 22 new deaths in the past three days – raising B.C.'s pandemic death toll to 2,490.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has in recent weeks been urging vaccinated individuals who are exhibiting mild symptoms to simply self-isolate and not get tested so as not to further stress the province's testing centres. As a result, she and others have been downplaying the accuracy of new-case counts, and active-case counts. 

Nonetheless, the latest data show health officials detected 2,383 new infections on January 15, as well as 1,733 on January 16, and 1,509 in the past 24 hours. 

There are 35,985 people in B.C. known to be actively battling infections, which is 42 more than on Friday, but down from the record 36,641 on January 12. 

Of the 299,146 known COVID-19 infections in the province since the first case was detected in January 2020, 257,677, or 86.1%, are deemed by the government to have recovered. 

Older British Columbians have shown to be vulnerable to more serious infections, and deaths, so it is concerning that health-care facilities, seniors' care homes and retirement communities had been increasingly developing outbreaks.

B.C. has 50 such facilities with ongoing outbreaks, which is a net total of four more than on Friday, and 49 more than one month ago.

New health-care facility outbreaks are at: 
• Mayfair Senior Living + Care in Abbotsford;
• MSA Manor in Abbotsford;
• Heritage Square in Vernon;
• Salvation Army Sunset Lodge in Victoria;
• James Bay Care Centre in James Bay;
• The Heights at Mt. View in Victoria;
• Luther Court in Victoria;
• Selkirk Village Assisted Living in Victoria.

Outbreaks have been declared over at: 
• Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster;
• The Waverly Seniors Village in Chilliwack;
• Glenwood Seniors Community in Agassiz; and
• German Canadian Benevolent Society Home in Vancouver.

Vaccinations help prevent infection and serious illness. 

Between Jan. 7 and Jan. 13, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 22.7% of new cases. Between Dec. 31 and Jan. 13, they accounted for 33.7% of hospitalizations.

The B.C. government estimates that 89.2% of eligible British Columbians, older than five years, have had at least one vaccine shot, while 83.4% of that eligible population is fully vaccinated with two jabs.

Provincial data show 4,447,145 B.C. residents have had at least one dose of vaccine, while 93.5% of those, or 4,155,929, are considered fully vaccinated with two doses. There were 133,339 people given booster, or third, doses of vaccine in the past three days, for a total of 1,544,191.

The B.C. government last year estimated that the province's total population is 5,147,712. Hence, Glacier Media's calculation is that 86.4% of B.C.'s total population has had at least one dose of vaccine, and 80.7% of the province's total population has had two doses.  Another 30% have had their booster doses. •

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