B.C. adds 9 deaths, dozens more hospitalizations in latest COVID-19 update

Nine more deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in B.C., and hospitalizations in the province have risen to another record high, the Ministry of Health announced Friday.

In the final pandemic update of the week, the ministry said 924 people are currently in hospital with COVID-19 in B.C. That total includes 130 people who are in intensive care units.

The nine new deaths bring the pandemic death toll to 2,529, and push the seven-day rolling average for deaths in B.C. to 8.71 per day.

The last time the rolling average was that high was nearly a year ago, on Feb. 3, 2021.

Four of the latest deaths happened in Fraser Health, four in Vancouver Coastal Health and one in Island Health, according to the ministry.

The 924 hospitalizations reported Friday include both people whose COVID-19 infections are serious enough to require hospital care and people who were admitted to hospital for other reasons and tested positive during routine screening.

Some of those in hospital have contracted COVID-19 as part of an acute care outbreak, of which there were 10 across the province as of Friday.

Five new outbreaks in care homes were added to the provincial total, and one outbreak was declared over, leaving B.C. with a total of 62 active outbreaks in its health-care system.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has called the province's current method for calculating COVID-19 hospitalizations "an overestimate," but one that still helps illustrate the impact of the coronavirus on the province's health-care system.

Henry said during a news conference Friday that B.C.'s promised "deep dive" on hospitalizations is being used to guide officials as they look for what they can do to prevent severe illness in the province. 

Friday's update also reported 2,364 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C., a number that is no longer considered particularly indicative of the spread of the disease in the province.

B.C.'s testing system reached its capacity earlier on in the Omicron wave, prompting the province to recommend against testing for otherwise healthy people under the age of 65.

There are currently 33,997 test-confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in the province, but the true number is likely several times higher than that.

As of Friday, 89.4 per cent of eligible people ages five and older in the province have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 83.5 per cent have received a second dose.

Booster shots have been administered to 37.8 per cent of people ages 12 and older, or 40.5 per cent of adults.