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COVID-19-related hospitalizations in B.C. fall to 13-week low

Six more pandemic-related deaths brings province's death toll from COVID-19 to 1,327.
B.C. deputy provincial health officer spoke to media February 19 Province of British Columbia | B.C. government

New cases of COVID-19 in B.C. remain elevated, but the province has been having the number of more serious infections trend downward, according to new data provided by the province February 19. 

The number of people in B.C. hospitals with the virus has fallen to 217 – the lowest number since November 19, when there were also 217 people in hospitals with the virus. The last time there were fewer British Columbians in hospital with the virus was November 18, when there were 209 people in those facilities. 

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICU) is up by one to 61. 

Health Minister Adrian Dix said that there is plenty of space in hospitals in case there is a spike in serious infections. Hospitals overall have a 72.5% occupancy, leaving 3,280 beds available. In ICU, wards are 54.6% filled, with 345 beds available. 

Six more British Columbians died from the virus overnight, for a total of 1,327 since the first death from the virus in the province was detected last March. 

Health officials detected 508 new infections overnight for a total of 75,835 since February 2020, with more than 92.2% of those, or 69,970 people considered recovered because they have tested negative for the virus twice. They are closely monitoring another 7,699 individuals for symptoms because those people have had known contact with someone identified as infected. 

There are 4,486 people actively battling COVID-19 infections in the province. 

Deputy provincial health officer Réka Gustafson said that the province currently has 52 cases of the B1.1.17 variant, which was first discovered in the U.K., and 20 cases of the B.1.351 variant first discovered in South Africa. Health officials have previously said that the province also has an active case of a variant of the virus first discovered in Nigeria. 

Here is the breakdown of where the 508 new cases are located:
• 116 in Vancouver Coastal Health (22.8%);
• 286 in Fraser Health (56.3%);
• 22 in Island Health (4.3%);
• 59 in Interior Health (11.6%); and
• 25 in Northern Health (4.9%).

Cases are grouped by health region based on where the infected people reside, not where the infected people are thought to have contracted the virus.

One new COVID-19 outbreak at a seniors' home is at the Florentine Long Term Care facility in Merritt.

B.C. received large shipments of vaccines yesterday, Dix said. That helped the province provide vaccine shots to 12,251 people, including 6,971 shots in the arms of people who were receiving their required second doses. 

In total, the province has so far provided 192,942 doses of vaccine to 156,019 people, with 36,923 of those individuals having both shots. 

Approximately 91% of residents in seniors' long-term care homes have been immunized, according to Dix. 

None of the 14 active outbreaks at B.C. seniors' care homes, assisted-living facilities and retirement residences is in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. 

The six active outbreaks at seniors' living facilities in Fraser Health are:
• CareLife Fleetwood in Surrey;
• Eagle Ridge Manor in Port Moody;
• Fleetwood Villa in Surrey;
• George Derby Centre in Burnaby;
• Royal City Manor in New Westminster; and
• Shaughnessy Care Centre in Port Coquitlam.

Two outbreaks at seniors' homes in Nanaimo – Eden Gardens and Wexford Creek – are the only ones in the Island Health region.

The outbreak at the Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert is the only active outbreak in Northern Health. 

The five active outbreaks at seniors' living facilities in Interior Health are at:
• Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre in Kamloops;
• Carrington Place Retirement Residence in Vernon;
• Creekside Landing in Vernon;
• Noric House in Vernon; and
• The Florentine in Merritt.

Dix said that he hopes changes will be able to take place in March for those in long-term care homes. 

"What we hope is going to change soon in long term care, and hope is going to change soon in assisted living, is the fact of immunization, and its obvious effect on the transmission of COVID-19 in long term care [that] is going to bring other changes," Dix said.

"I expect it will do so – we believe – in the month of March, where people are going to have more access, not less, and more opportunities to engage, not less."

The list of B.C. hospitals with active COVID-19 outbreaks includes:
• Abbotsford Regional Hospital in Abbotsford;
• Burnaby General Hospital in Burnaby;
• Dawson Creek and District Hospital in Dawson Creek;
• Mission Memorial Hospital in MIssion;
• Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops; and
• St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.