British Columbia once again set a record for COVID-19 hospitalizations Friday, but the jump of more than 100 cases came as the province changed the way it accounts for the virus in hospital settings.
Officials reported 646 people with COVID-19 in hospital, along with 95 people in critical or intensive care.
There were six additional deaths.
The new method for counting COVID-19 in hospitals amounts to a “census” of all positive cases, regardless of their reason for admission, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained at a Friday morning briefing, acknowledging it was an “overestimate.”
“It includes people related, because of COVID. It includes people who are incidentally found to have COVID-19, and it includes people who were part of an outbreak or cluster in a hospital, so acquired it while they were in the hospital for something else,” she said.
“Right now, about 45 per cent of the people in the hospital at this point are people who are incidentally found to have COVID. It does have an impact on things like infection control practices in the hospital. But it does also give us a measure of where we are in terms of impact.”
Henry said the province made the switch because the prior accounting of hospitalizations, a composite number that in part tracked people who tested positive then required hospitalization over the course of their illness, was too slow to respond to the surging number of Omicron variant cases.
Provincial modelling released Friday suggested B.C. could see new hospitalizations peak late next week.
“It’s a very fluid situation,” she said, adding that there were currently about 45 or 50 people being admitted for COVID daily.
Starting Friday, the province will present the “census” number daily, along with a weekly “snapshot” that will break down people who were admitted due to COVID, people in hospital who happen to have COVID, and people who acquire COVID in hospital.
According to data presented Friday, British Columbians who weren’t fully vaccinated made up 47 per cent of hospitalizations, and 70 per cent of ICU cases.
They also accounted for more than six in 10 COVID-19 deaths over the last month despite representing just 10 per cent of B.C.’s adult population.
The risk of hospitalization for the unvaccinated was 12 times that of people with two doses of vaccine, while the risk of needing ICU treatment was 27 times higher.
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As of Friday, 86.18 per cent of B.C.’s population (89 per cent of those eligible) have had one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, 80.66 per cent of B.C.’s population (83.3 per cent of those eligible) have had two doses, and 27.43 per cent of B.C.’s population (30.5 per cent of those eligible) have had three doses.
There were 2,275 new cases confirmed, a number officials acknowledge significantly undercounts the spread of the virus due to testing capacity limits.
Officials reported a new outbreak at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital, bringing the number of hospital outbreaks to 10.
Since the start of the pandemic, B.C. has reported 293,521 total cases, while 2,468 people have died.
Officials are expected to provide an update about current COVID-19 restrictions next Tuesday.