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COVID-19 hospitalizations in B.C. at one-month high

Five more die of COVID-19 in B.C. in past three days
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At the end of July, only 4% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients were fully immunized

The number of those actively fighting COVID-19 infections has risen to 3,036, with the vast majority of those being told to self-isolate at home, although 68 are in B.C. hospitals, with 20 of those being in intensive care units (ICUs).

B.C. has not had this many people actively battling infections since May 28, nor as many people in hospitals with the disease since July 9.

"The majority of the hospitalizations are in non-immunized people in their 40s and 50s," Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry told media August 9. Last week, she said that at the end of July, only 4% of COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals were fully vaccinated for at least seven days before symptoms.

Provincial data shows five new COVID-19 related deaths in the past three days, raising the province's death toll from the pandemic to 1,777. 

With new COVID-19 infections in B.C. still being detected at a rate substantially higher than a month ago, provincial officials are enabling residents across B.C. to get their second shots of vaccine after only 28 days, down from what was 49 days. 

The change is aimed at getting more people fully vaccinated sooner, and therefore helping them be better able to fight off potential infection and disease. It also comes as staff at vaccination centres deliver fewer vaccination shots because there is an ever-smaller number of British Columbians who remain needing vaccine doses. 

"We're down to 833,298 people who are not yet vaccinated at all in B.C.," said B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said at an August 9 press conference. He did not specify whether this total includes people younger than 12 years, who are so far ineligible to get vaccinated.

He said that those who need to get their first doses of vaccine will be able to go to any vaccination clinic in the province without first booking an appointment. Some of these clinics, such as a pop-up one outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, will provide needed second doses, Dix added later in a tweet.

This essentially makes every day the same as the Walk-in Wednesday promotion that the province held last week. Health officials on that day allowed anyone to walk into any clinic, without an appointment, and get a vaccine shot.

The B.C. government in February estimated that the province's total population is 5,147,712, and it released data August 9 that shows 3,801,960 British Columbians, or 73.8%, have had at least one dose of vaccine, with 3,257,931 residents, or 63.3%, fully vaccinated with two doses.

Of the eligible population older than 12 years, the province said 82% have now had one dose of vaccine, while 70.3% are fully vaccinated. 

Henry said slight rises in the percentages of people who have had one dose, or two doses, of vaccine can translate into B.C. having a significantly greater ability to reduce the spread of the virus. 

"The vast majority of cases are in people who are unvaccinated, or have a single dose," she said. "The risk of transmission is incrementally lower in people who are immunized."

In the past three days, B.C. health officials detected 1,079 new COVID-19 infections. That includes 422 on August 7, 364 on August 8, and 293 in the past 24 hours. That's an average of 359.6 new cases per day. In contrast, one month ago, on July 7, 8 and 9, the province averaged 54.3 new cases per day.

Most new cases are in the Interior Health region. Here is a breakdown of where the 1,079 new COVID-19 infections are in B.C.:
• 258 in Fraser Health (23.9%);
• 142 in Vancouver Coastal Health (13.2%);
• 587 in Interior Health (54.4%);
• 30 in Northern Health (2.8%);
• 62 in Island Health (5.7%).

Henry said that while the Delta variant of COVID-19 is prevalent in B.C., and it is spreading widely among younger people, so far most of these infections have not been severe enough to require hospitalization.

More than 96.8%, or 148,066, of the 152,918 people known to have contracted COVID-19 in B.C. are considered by the province to have recovered because they have gone 10 days after first feeling symptoms, and are therefore not thought to be infectious.

One new COVID-19 outbreak at a seniors' home in B.C. is at KinVillage in South Delta, in the Fraser Health region. One resident and one staff member at that facility have tested positive.

There remain six other seniors' living facilities with active COVID-19 outbreaks:
• Discovery Harbour in Campbell River;
• Kootenay Street Village in Cranbrook;
• Cottonwoods Care Centre in Kelowna;
• Brookhaven Care Centre in West Kelowna;
• Holyrood Manor in Maple Ridge; and
• Nelson Jubilee Manor in Nelson.


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