COVID-19 update: B.C. adds 671 cases, 3 deaths as hospitalizations top 200

A person wears a face mask as protection against COVID-19 at a Vancouver SkyTrain station. (Shutterstock)

The number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals has topped 200 for the first time in nearly three months, health officials revealed Friday.

More alarmingly, there are twice as many patients in intensive care as there were back in early June, according to the latest numbers shared by B.C.'s Ministry of Health.

Officials also announced 671 new COVID-19 cases and three related deaths, bringing the provincial totals to 168,325 infections and 1,827 fatalities since the start of the pandemic.

There are 215 coronavirus patients in hospital as of Friday's update, including 118 being cared for in ICU. The last time hospitalization numbers were that high was June 6, when there were 224 patients overall and only 59 in intensive care.

A recent U.K. study found the Delta variant, which is now the dominant strain in Canada, could double the risk of hospitalization among the unvaccinated.

B.C. health officials have been sounding the alarm about the increasing pressure COVID-19 patients have been having on hospitals, which has led to some delays of non-urgent surgeries and contributed to an ongoing problem of burnout among frontline health-care workers.

That includes in B.C.'s north, where the government imposed a number of regional restrictions this week to combat surges in case and hospitalization numbers.

Meanwhile, opponents of vaccination and vaccine mandates have been organizing in demonstrations of civil disobedience – which led to large gatherings outside several B.C. hospitals this week that frustrated doctors and nurses and impeded access for some patients.

B.C.'s vaccine passport system is being phased in beginning on Sept. 13, when the public will need at least one dose for non-essential activities like dining out at restaurants and going to the movies.

So far, 84.8 per cent of eligible adults in the province have received at least one shot, and 77.1 per cent have received both.

While B.C. health officials have boasted the province has one of the highest vaccination rates of any jurisdiction in the world, there are pockets of low immunization, particularly in the Northern Health and Interior Health regions, both of which are under tailored restrictions designed to curb transmission.

Just under half of the new infections announced Friday came from those two health authority regions, which also account for 44 per cent of B.C.'s 5,872 active COVID-19 cases.

The Ministry of Health also noted there has been one new outbreak, a the Menno Home long-term care facility in Abbotsford. There are now 21 active outbreaks across B.C.'s health-care system.