COVID-19 update: B.C. hospitalizations still surging as hundreds of surgeries delayed

The number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals continued to climb on Tuesday, adding to the pandemic's ongoing strain on health-care resources that has already resulted in hundreds of delayed surgeries in recent weeks.

B.C.'s Ministry of Health announced there are now 332 coronavirus patients hospitalized across the province, a jump of 25 from Monday. The number of those patients in intensive care remained relatively flat at 155, however.

Earlier in the day, Health Minister Adrian Dix confirmed there were 798 non-urgent surgeries postponed between Sept. 5 and 18 due to the influx of coronavirus admissions.

"Every one of those surgeries is medically necessary," Dix said. "Every one of those surgeries will be done. But they've had to be delayed because of COVID-19 pressures on our hospitals."

That pressure was preventable, the health minister said, and can still be alleviated if more residents get vaccinated against COVID-19.

"It is essential those who have not been vaccinated and are eligible to be vaccinated make the decision we are all counting on them to make," Dix said.

Of the patients battling COVID-19 in ICUs on Tuesday, 94 per cent are not fully vaccinated, according to the province. Just over 88 per cent have not received a single dose of vaccine, including all 20 patients under the age of 40.

"After factoring for age, people not vaccinated are 33.1 times more likely to be hospitalized than those fully vaccinated," the Ministry of Health said in its release.

Officials also announced 525 new cases of COVID-19 and one related death on Tuesday. The province has now identified 180,178 infections and suffered 1,900 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The unimmunized also make up the vast majority of cases, leading officials to declare B.C. in a "pandemic of the unvaccinated."

Of the 4,367 cases recorded from Sept. 13 to 19, 68.3 per cent involved the unvaccinated – a group that represents less than a quarter of the population, including all children under the age of 12 who aren't eligible for vaccination.

The unvaccinated were infected at a rate of 290 per 100,000 population during the same time period, compared to 26.3 per 100,000 for the fully vaccinated.

So far, B.C. has administered 7,725,586 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. Eighty-seven per cent of the eligible population has had at least one dose, and 79.5 per cent have received both doses.

The spread of COVID-19 among the unvaccinated has also been blamed, in part, for an increase in outbreaks at health-care facilities in B.C. Officials announced another outbreak on Tuesday, at the Victoria Chinatown Care Centre, bringing the total number of active outbreaks across the province's health-care system to 22.