7 deaths in 24 hours attributed to COVID-19 in B.C.: latest update

Seven more people have died of COVID-19 in the 24-hour period since the B.C. health ministry's previous update, officials said Wednesday.

These deaths were in the province's Vancouver Coastal, Interior and Island health authorities, the ministry said in a statement. The total death toll of the pandemic in B.C. now stands at 1,873.

During the same period, 661 new cases of the disease were confirmed, but with more than 1,000 recoveries, the active total dropped to just under 5,800 cases.

According to the ministry, more than three-quarters of cases recorded in the last week in B.C. were in people who were not vaccinated (68.4 per cent) or partially vaccinated (8.1 per cent). This data is from cases confirmed between Sept. 7 and 13.

Looking at the first two weeks of the month, the ministry said 316 of the 387 people in hospital with the disease were unvaccinated. Another 22, or 5.7 per cent, were partially vaccinated – meaning having one dose, or having just recently received their second – while the remaining 12.7 per cent had both doses, and enough time had passed for them to be considered fully vaccinated.

Provincial data shared Wednesday included that 86.1 per cent of all eligible British Columbians have now had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 78.6 per cent have had both shots.

B.C. is now two days into a mandate that vaccine cards – scannable QR codes linked to a person's vaccination record – must be checked to gain entry to many services and businesses deemed non-essential.

This proof of vaccination is required at restaurants, gyms, bars and other venues, but is not needed to get groceries, vote or access government services.

B.C. has seen a total of 176,480 known cases since the start of the pandemic. Of those, 95.4 per cent of people who tested positive have recovered.

Looking at the latest cases confirmed in B.C., which includes two epidemiologically-linked cases not confirmed through lab results, more than one-third were in the province's most population-dense region of Fraser Health. In that area, 1,744 cases are currently considered active, of the 5,791 province-wide.

Another 196 people were confirmed to have COVID-19 in the Interior Health region, 99 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 66 in Island Health and 62 in Northern Health.

One person who lives outside of Canada is also among the 661 new cases.

With the latest data, B.C.'s rolling seven-day case average has decreased from 724 on Tuesday. It now stands at 702.

The easily transmissible Delta variant has been blamed for the fourth wave through B.C., and the reason why some previously-dropped mandates have been put back in place.

Face masks were, for a time, not required in indoor public spaces, but that rule was put back in place in August when cases started to climb again.

Notable during this latest wave is that the rate of hospitalized patients requiring intensive care is much higher.

Currently there are 288 people being treated in B.C. hospitals for the disease, about half of whom (137) are in ICUs.

And earlier in the pandemic there was a bit of a reprieve when it came to outbreaks, but the province is now dealing with 24, most of which are in long-term care.

Sixteen long-term care facilities are in outbreak protocol, along with three acute care facilities and five assisted or independent living centres.

In an effort to protect some of B.C.'s most vulnerable residents, the province announced that all health-care employees will have to be vaccinated by Oct. 26.

Workers in long-term care face unpaid leave, as of Monday, if they don't have at least one dose of vaccine, and must have both shots by Oct. 12.