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Severe COVID-19 illnesses rise in B.C. as new daily cases remain high

Adrian Dix with Bonnie in a mask
Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health minister Bonnie Henry provide regular updates on the spread of COVID-19

The number of people suffering severe illnesses related to COVID-19 infections continues to increase, although some good news is that there were no new deaths among people who carry the virus in the past day. 

Provincial data show that 280 people are now sick enough from their infections to be in hospitals, which is the highest number in six weeks. Of those, 84 people are in intensive care units – the last time there were that many was December 22, 12 weeks ago.

New infections continue to be detected at a rate in excess of 500 per day. In the past 24 hours, health officials determined that another 556 people have contracted the virus, for a total of 88,929 since the first case was discovered in late January, 2020.

Health officials discovered 116 new infections that are of what they call "variants of concern," because these mutant strains of the virus transmit more easily.

In total, B.C. has identified 996 variant infections, and 130 of those are in people actively battling the infection. No one has yet died in B.C. from a known variant strain of COVID-19. The B.1.1.7 strain first identified in the U.K. is the most common variant in the province, as 921 people have been infected with it. Another 41 people have contracted the B.1.351 strain, first found in South Africa, while 34 people have come down with the P.1 strain first discovered in Brazil. 

Almost 92.7% of those infected with COVID-19, or 82,436 people, are considered to have recovered because they have tested negative twice for the virus.

There are 4,999 people known to be infected who have yet to recover, with health officials telling the vast majority of them to self-isolate. A total of 1,407 people have died while being infected. That leaves 87 people unaccounted for. Health officials have told BIV that the likely reason for the numerical discrepancy is that the individuals left the province without providing officials with status reports.

Health officials are closely monitoring 9,511 people for symptoms because those individuals have had known contact with at least one person identified as having been infected. That is the highest number of people being closely monitored since December 24. 

What provincial health officer Bonnie Henry calls "mass vaccinations" started yesterday. By this, she means that eligible elderly members of the general public were first able to get vaccinated, after having booked an appointment. There was a record 15,414 doses of vaccine given yesterday, to 15,403 new people, while 11 people were given their needed second doses.  

Vaccine appointment bookings are open for people older than 83 years. Each day this week, the minimum age to book an appointment will drop by one year, so that those as young as 80 years are eligible by the weekend, along with Indigenous people who are at least 65 years old.

In total, 337,447 British Columbians have had one dose of vaccine, while 87,070 people have had two doses. Health officials aim to significantly step up the pace of vaccinations as large shipments of vaccines arrive in order to have all eligible British Columbians vaccinated by the end of July. In order to do that, the average number of new people vaccinated each day needs to rise at least above 26,500. Those younger than 18, pregnant women and others with immunocompromised are not expected to be eligible to be vaccinated by July.

Here is the breakdown of where the 556 newly infected people reside, by health region:
• 139 in Vancouver Coastal Health (25%);
• 331 in Fraser Health (59.5%);
• 27 in Island Health (4.8%);
• 16 in Interior Health (2.8%); and
• 41 in Northern Health (7.4%).

"There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks," Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement. "The outbreak at Acropolis Manor is now over."

The number of outbreaks at seniors' homes is down to six. 

The Vancouver Coastal Health, Island Health and Northern Health regions have no outbreaks at seniors' homes. 

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 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 hospital outbreaks at Dawson Creek and District Hospital in Dawson Creek, and Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster are no longer listed as active.

The eight hospitals in B.C. that have outbreaks are:
• Chilliwack General Hospital in Chilliwack;
• Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody;
• Kelowna General Hospital in Kelowna;
• Mission Memorial Hospital in Mission;
• Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge;
• Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey;
• UBC Hospital, and
• Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver.

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