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B.C. reports 7 deaths since Friday, another big jump in hospitalizations

B.C. has recorded another seven coronavirus-related deaths over the last 72 hours, the government announced Monday along with another significant jump in hospitalizations.

The Ministry of Health said there are now 431 people in hospital with COVID-19, an increase of 23 per cent from Friday and up 55 per cent from last Monday.

That total includes 95 patients in intensive care, which is up 16 per cent from last Monday.

Another 6,995 cases of COVID-19 were reported over the weekend as well, all but four of which were confirmed through PCR testing.

The latest numbers pushed the seven-day average for cases down to 2,810, a decrease of about 340 from Friday, though officials have cautioned that daily case numbers do not reflect the extent of transmission in the province because of limitations in testing capacity.

The Omicron wave of COVID-19 cases has seen unprecedented levels of transmission that have left testing centres overwhelmed for weeks. In the meantime, people who are fully vaccinated, have mild symptoms and are not considered at higher risk of severe illness have been told to forego testing and stay home until their symptoms improve.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said the actual number of new infections happening daily could be up to five times higher than reported.

The percentage of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 – another metric that reflects the spread of the virus – has skyrocketed over the last month. Just three per cent of tests came back positive on Dec. 10, compared to 23.8 per cent as of Friday.

The unvaccinated continue to be over-represented among the province’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. People who are not vaccinated made up 35.6 per cent of hospitalizations between Dec. 24 and Jan. 6, according to the Ministry of Health, while that group makes up less than 15 per cent of the provincial population, including the babies, toddlers and other children too young to be eligible for vaccination.

The unvaccinated were hospitalized at a rate of 35.5 patients per 100,000 population during that time period, while the fully vaccinated were hospitalized at a rate of 5.3 per cent per 100,000.

So far, 88.7 per cent of eligible B.C. residents have received their first dose of vaccine, and 83.2 per cent have received two. Nearly 28 per cent of adults have received a booster as well.

High levels of transmission have also triggered another wave of outbreaks in health-care facilities. There have been seven more since Friday, bringing the provincial total to 43 active outbreaks in those settings. As recently as Dec. 22, there were zero.

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