There were 16 more COVID-19-related deaths in B.C, recorded in the past three days, for a total of 1,437
An elevated level of new COVID-19 infections in B.C. has helped push the number of those hospitalized with the virus in the province above 300 for the first time since January 27, when there were also 303 such people in those institutions. Of those 80 people are sick enough to be in intensive care units.
This is worrying for health officials because additional serious infections could push B.C.'s daily death toll up, after many weeks of wrestling that rate down by vaccinating high-risk seniors in care homes.
The number of people actively battling infections has risen to 5,290 – a number that has not been higher since January 8.
B.C. health officials detected 1,785 new COVID-19 infections in the past three days, for a total of 92,571 since the first case of the virus was identified in B.C. in late January, 2020.
Here is the breakdown of where the 1,785 newly infected people reside, by health region:
• 469 in Vancouver Coastal Health (26.2%);
• 1,010 in Fraser Health (56.5%);
• 89 in Island Health (5%);
• 84 in Interior Health (4.7%); and
• 133 in Northern Health (7.6%).
Of those, a total of 1,366 are cases of what health officials call "variants of concern," because they are thought to spread more easily than the main COVID-19 virus. Health officials discovered 166 new mutant-virus cases in the past three days, but those discoveries came from retesting past samples, so the cases may have come from any time in recent months.
"The variants of concern are moving quickly," provincial health officer Bonnie Henry told media March 22. She urged residents to stay vigilant by wearing masks, keeping a safe distance from others, and to regularly wash hands.
The B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the U.K., remains the dominant mutant strain of COVID-19 in B.C., as there have been 1,240 such cases, up 146 from the last update on March 19.
Only 20 additional cases of the Brazilian variant were discovered in B.C. in the past three days, for a total of 85.
The third main strain of variant COVID-19 viruses in B.C. is the B.1.351 strain, which was first detected in South Africa. There are 41 cases of that strain, and there have been no newly discovered cases of that variant since March 15.
Henry said 237 people are actively fighting variants strains, and that the remaining 1,129 people infected with mutant strains have recovered. There are 23 people who have contracted variant strains who are in hospital, and Henry said that this number is in line with what would be expected. So, the variants in B.C. have not led to a disproportionate number of hospitalizations and, most importantly, there have been no British Columbians known to be infected with a variant who has died.
There were 16 more COVID-19 deaths recorded in the past three days, including one case that Henry called "historical," and not previously counted. That brings the province's death toll to 1,437, since the first death was recorded in the province on March 9, 2020.
More than 92.6%, or 85,746 people, who have been infected, are deemed by the province to have recovered.
Some good news is that health officials are starting to regularly administer higher numbers of vaccine doses, although the average in the past three days was below the level seen on Friday.
Officials in the past three days have injected 49,386 doses of vaccine to 49,364 new people, with 22 others getting needed second doses. In total, 539,408 doses of vaccine have been provided to 452,247 people, with 87,161 people receiving two doses, according to provincial statistics.
Henry said that there have been "several occasions" of outbreaks related to youth sports, that then spill over into workplaces.
"These are concerning," she said. "Right now, we're not seeing rapidly explosive outbreaks, with the exception of some work environments where it's really difficult for people to maintain the safety protocols that are in place. But, we are seeing lots of small transmission events that lead to more, they lead to the next chain, the next chain. That makes it very challenging to break those chains of transmission."
There were no new outbreaks at healthcare facilities, and Henry said the outbreak at the Florentine seniors' home in Merritt is over, as is the outbreak at Chilliwack General Hospital.
That means, the Vancouver Coastal Health, Island Health and Northern Health regions continue to have no outbreaks at seniors' homes.
The three active outbreaks at seniors' living facilities in Fraser Health are:
• Fleetwood Place in Surrey;
• Oceana PARC in White Rock, and
• Revera Sunwood in Maple Ridge.
There is also an outbreak in Interior Health at the Cottonwoods Care Centre in Kelowna.
The seven hospitals in B.C. that have outbreaks are:
• Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody;
• Kelowna General Hospital in Kelowna;
• Mission Memorial Hospital in Mission;
• Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge;
• Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey;
• UBC Hospital, and
• Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver.