B.C. COVID-19 hospitalizations rise to five week high

Ten more British Columbians died from COVID-19 in the past three days.

As spring weather prompts British Columbians to get outdoors, and B.C. newly has loosened regulations that allow people to have social-bubbles of up to 10 people, who they socialize with outdoors, the COVID-19 pandemic shows no sign of subsiding.

Indeed, the number of serious cases of COVID-19 are on the rise. Ten more B.C. residents died on the weekend, while actively battling infections, for a total of 1,407 deaths from the virus since the first such death was recorded last March. 

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A net total of 14 more infected people have been added to B.C. hospitals in the past three days, for a total of 269 individuals – the most since February 3, almost six weeks ago. Of those, 76 are sick enough to be in intensive care units (ICUs) – the most since February 4. 

Health Minister Adrian Dix said that there remains space in B.C. hospitals. When all newly added beds are included, B.C. hospitals are at 72.1% capacity, with ICUs at 53.6% capacity. 

The case count in the province continues at a steady pace: 555 new cases on March 13, another 491 on March 14, and 460 cases in the past 24 hours. That is a total of 1,506 people in three days, keeping the province's daily average above the 500-case threshold.

Some good news is that 83 fewer people are actively battling infections today in B.C., compared with the last update, on March 12, thanks to more people recovering than being newly infected. There are 4,987 known active COVID-19 cases in B.C. today.

More than 92.6%, or 81,890 individuals, out of the 88,373 people infected in B.C. with the virus, have recovered. The status for another 89 people, who were infected in B.C., are unaccounted for, with health officials having told Glacier Media that the individuals likely left the province without alerting authorities about their recovery status.

New tests done on viral samples first taken in the past several months has determined 163 additional cases of so-called variants of concern, or incidents of mutant strains of COVID-19 that are thought to transmit more easily than the main coronavirus. This adds up to a total of 880 cases of the variants in B.C. Of those, 195 people remain actively infected. The remainder have all recovered, with zero deaths, indicating that the variant strains have not been more lethal in B.C.

Health officials are monitoring more than 9,000 people for symptoms, because they have had known exposure to people identified as being infected, provincial health officer Bonnie Henry said March 15. 

Here is the breakdown of where the 1,506 newly infected people reside, by health region:
• 382 in Vancouver Coastal Health (25.4%);
• 840 in Fraser Health (55.8%);
• 75 in Island Health (5%);
• 80 in Interior Health (5.3%); and
• 129 in Northern Health (8.6%).

Vaccinations have yet to fully ramp up, as 28,325 people have been immunized in the past three days, for an average of 9,441.67 people per day. That number has to ramp up significantly if more than four million British Columbians are to be vaccinated by July, which is the government's goal. Another 35 people received second doses of vaccine in the past three days.

In total, health officials have administered 409,103 doses of vaccine to 322,044 British Columbians, with 87,059 of those getting needed second doses.

The B.C. government lists seven seniors' homes as having active outbreaks, down from 10 on March 12.

Outbreaks newly declared over include:
• Shaughnessy Care Centre in Port Coquitlam;
• Chartwell Carrington House in Mission; and
• Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre in Kamloops,

The Vancouver Coastal Health and Island Health regions have no such outbreaks.

The four active outbreaks at seniors' living facilities in Fraser Health are:
• Fleetwood Place in Surrey;
• Holmberg House Hospice in Abbotsford;
• Oceana PARC in White Rock; and
• Revera Sunwood in Maple Ridge.

The only outbreak at a seniors' home in the Northern Health region is at the Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert.

The two active outbreaks at seniors' living facilities in Interior Health are at the Florentine in Merritt, and at Cottonwoods Care Centre in Kelowna.

There are also 10 active COVID-19 outbreaks at B.C. hospitals, thanks to one new outbreak at UBC Hospital.

The full list of hospitals that have outbreaks includes:
• Chilliwack General Hospital in Chilliwack;
• Dawson Creek and District Hospital in Dawson Creek;
• Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody;
• Kelowna General Hospital in Kelowna;
• Mission Memorial Hospital in Mission;
• Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge;
• Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster;
• Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey;
• UBC Hospital; and
• Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver.

One new outbreak outside of healthcare facilities is at Langley glass manufacturer Vitrum Glass.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom

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