B.C. yet to see post-holidays spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations: health minister – BC News
Photo: The Canadian Press
British Columbia’s health minister says hospitals have yet to see the surge in COVID-19 infections recorded after earlier public holidays during the pandemic, but the health system is still feeling the strain of respiratory illnesses.
As of Wednesday, 223 people with influenza, or respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV, were hospitalized, according to Adrian Dix, while 356 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
He says the combination of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses will make for some “very challenging weeks for our healthcare system” in mid-winter.
Dix says more people have met in person this holiday season than in the past two years, when public health restrictions were in place, but far more people are now getting initial and booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine.
He says 12 cases of a new subvariant of the omicron strain of COVID-19 spreading in the United States were confirmed in BC on Wednesday, but the actual number of cases circulating among the population would be higher.
The subvariant appears to be more contagious than others, he says, meaning it can spread faster but may not result in more serious individual outcomes.
“The Delta variant has put an enormous number of people in intensive care in our province,” Dix said at a press conference on Thursday, citing the strain that was spreading rapidly in the summer of 2021. “Other variants had less impact per person, like Omicron, but were more widely perceived.”
The latest variant appears to be similar to the Omicron strain in that it “may not be more serious to individuals, although it is serious to some…but also more contagious,” he says.
Dix encouraged those who haven’t received their booster doses of COVID-19 to get the shot and says people should stay home if they’re sick.
The minister says he wears a face covering in indoor public places like the grocery store and he suggested everyone consider doing the same.
The latest data from the BC Center for Disease Control shows hospital admissions “slowly decreased” in December while critical care admissions have remained stable.
The center says the number of deaths registered within 30 days of a positive COVID-19 test has also been stable over the past month, with 13 deaths recorded in the last week of 2022.
Of the 356 people currently hospitalized, 25 are in intensive care.