On Thursday, B.C. reported a record 178 people with COVID-19 in intensive care — a spike from early March when the number of critically-ill patients hovered around 60 to 70. In total, 503 people were in hospital with the coronavirus, down from Wednesday’s record high of 515.
Increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals and intensive care units are putting pressure on the health-care system amid the province’s third wave.
On Thursday, B.C. reported a record 178 people with COVID-19 in intensive care — a spike from early March when the number of critically ill patients hovered around 60 to 70.
In total, 503 people were in hospital with the coronavirus, down from Wednesday’s record high of 515.
Earlier this month, the province cancelled non-urgent surgeries to prepare for the onslaught of COVID-sick patients.
Between April 18 and 25, 398 surgeries were cancelled in Fraser Health, 197 in Vancouver Coastal and 12 in Vancouver Island Health, said Health Minister Adrian Dix. No surgeries was cut in Interior Health and Northern Health. The prior week, B.C. completed more than 7,000 surgeries.
“This is a particularly challenging time in our COVID-19 fight with pressures on health-care staff and hospitals that we have not seen to this point of the pandemic,” said Dix at a news conference Thursday, reminding British Columbians to adhere to public health orders, practise COVID-safety protocols and register for a vaccination to help push back on “COVID pressure” on the health-care system.
Hospitals are also seeing younger people coming in with the disease. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there has been an increasing number of patients aged 40 to 49 and 50 to 79 requiring admission, although age is still the most predictive factor of hospitalization and requiring ICU care.
While there were people who have been vaccinated who become infected with COVID-19, the rates of infection remain much lower after immunizations, she said.
“Most of the people in hospital right now are people who have not been immunized or were within the period of time before their immune system was stimulated by the vaccine.”
Henry said the number of new cases has started to come down, but it takes time for that trend to be reflected in hospitalization and ICU numbers, which are considered lag indicators.
On Thursday, the province reported 853 new cases, bringing the number of active cases to 7,996.
The Lower Mainland continues to be a hot spot, with 574 cases in Fraser Health and 181 in Vancouver Coastal. Vancouver Island recorded 30 cases, Interior Health, 43 and Northern Health, 25.
There has been one death in the Interior Health region.
More than 1.7 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to date, including 90,296 second doses.
Next week, B.C. expects to receive its initial shipment of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
About one million doses of the Pfizer vaccine are also expected to arrive in May, which means the Health Ministry can speed up its age-based vaccination program, said Henry. Currently, British Columbians age 58-and-older can book their vaccine appointments, while those age 18-and-older can register now for a future invitation to book an appointment.
There have been 128,763 cases of the coronavirus — with 118,937 people recovered — and 1,577 total deaths in B.C. since the pandemic began.
Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that the new case count was 874. This was the number given by Dr. Bonnie Henry at the 1 p.m. press conference. A joint statement since released by the government put the new case count at 853.