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B.C. reveals full extent of COVID-19 hospitalizations

152 additional B.C. hospital beds now known to be occupied with people who have had COVID-19
The Jim Pattison Pavilion at Vancouver General Hospital is seen on the southeast False Creek skyline | Glen Korstrom

The B.C. government has released data showing that earlier this week 152 people were in B.C. hospitals and could have been included in daily COVID-19 hospitalization counts, but were not. 

Those people, on September 21, had either been admitted to hospital for COVID-19 but were no longer deemed infectious, or they had gone into hospital for a different reason, and then contracted COVID-19.

The new data makes clearer the effect of COVID-19 on B.C.'s hospital capacity.

The B.C. government's daily data reports that identify how many people are in hospital with COVID-19 only include people with COVID-19 who are deemed to be infectious. 

Normally, COVID-19 patients are deemed infectious if they have not yet gone 10 days after first noticing symptoms, as long as the individuals do not have fevers, and their symptoms are improving. 

The government noted in a news release that its standard for counting COVID-19 patients is the same as it is in Ontario, Alberta and Centers for Disease Control in the U.S.

In B.C., for serious COVID-19 cases, patients are counted up to 20 days after first feeling symptoms. 

"That 20-day guideline varies according to each patient’s unique circumstances and is, for this reason, a clinical decision," the government said. 

Using the government's calculations for individuals in hospitals who are no longer deemed to be infectious, B.C. has 319 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, which is 11 fewer than yesterday.

Of the province's 510 intensive care unit (ICU) beds, and more than 230 so-called "surge" ICU beds, which were added during the pandemic for emergencies, 149 are filled with COVID-19 patients who the province considers to be infectious. That is up by one, compared with yesterday, and far higher than health officials would like. 

ICU beds in the Northern Health region, for example, are so swamped with COVID-19 patients that officials have started to relocate those patients to Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island hospitals

Of the 39 people in B.C. ICUs who are younger than 50 years old, none are fully vaccinated, two are partially vaccinated with one dose of vaccine, and the remainder are all unvaccinated.

Officials detected 743 new infections in the past 24 hours. The province considers 5,979 people to be fighting active infections, with the vast majority of those having been told to self-isolate. 

The seven known COVID-19-related deaths in the past 24 hours raise the province's pandemic death toll to 1,922.

New vaccinations have slowed, as the vast majority of British Columbians are already fully vaccinated. 

Health officials provided 14,636 doses of vaccine to British Columbians in the past day, with 6,778 of those being to unvaccinated individuals, and 7,858 going to those needing second doses. No data was available for any third doses, which have started to be administered to those who are considered extremely vulnerable, and immunocompromised. 

Of the 4,053,738 B.C. residents who have received at least one dose of vaccine, since the first vaccine doses in the province were administered to health-care workers on December 16, 2020, more than 91.5%, or 3,709,554, are fully vaccinated, with two doses.

The province estimates that 87.5% of eligible British Columbians, older than 12 years, have had at least one dose of vaccine, with 80% of that population considered fully vaccinated with two doses.

The B.C. government estimated in July that the province's total population is 5,147,712, so Glacier Media's calculation is that more than 78.7% of B.C.'s total population has had at least one dose of vaccine, and more than 72% of the province's total population has had two doses.

People who are vaccinated are still able to contract COVID-19, and spread the disease. Vaccination is important because it limits the likelihood of infection, an when infections do happen, they tend to lead to milder illness. 

Government statistics released today show that, after factoring for age, people not vaccinated against COVID-19 are 25.9 times more likely to be hospitalized than those fully vaccinated.

Of the 436 hospitalizations in the two weeks ended September 22, there were:
• 322 not vaccinated (73.9%);
• 35 partially vaccinated (8%); and
• 79 fully vaccinated (18.1%).

The 4,543 cases in the week ended September 22 included:
• 3,057 (67.3%) unvaccinated;
• 351 (7.7%) partially vaccinated; and
• 1,135 (25%) fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 can have more serious outcomes in older individuals, so outbreaks in seniors' homes are of particular concern. 

With no new outbreaks in those homes identified in the past day, B.C. continues to have 21 active outbreaks in seniors' homes or other health-care facilities. •