British Columbia reported 12 more COVID-19-related deaths on Friday, as the number of cases in hospital fell below 600 for the first time since Jan. 13.
Health officials said there were 599 cases in B.C. hospitals, an overnight drop of 13. The number of cases in critical or intensive care fell by six to 96 — dipping below 100 for the first time since mid-January.
The number of active outbreaks in health-care facilities fell to 27, down from 46 two weeks ago.
Officials also reported 583 new cases, however daily new case counts no longer reflect the spread of the virus due to limits on testing.
As of Friday, 87.7 per cent of B.C.’s population (90.6 per cent of those eligible) had received one dose of COVID-19, 83.3 per cent of B.C.’s population (86.1 per cent of those eligible) had received two doses, and 48.1 per cent of B.C.’s population (57.4 per cent of those eligible) had received three doses.
People with two or more doses accounted for 79.3 per cent of cases over the past week and 66.3 per cent of hospitalizations over the past week.
However, Data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control continues to show the unvaccinated a higher risk of serious outcomes.
From Jan. 22 to Feb. 18, per 100,000 population, there were 168.8 unvaccinated people in hospital, 45.3 unvaccinated people in ICU and 19.7 deaths among unvaccinated people, compared to 55.9 vaccinated people in hospital, 12 vaccinated people in ICU, and 7.2 deaths among vaccinated people.
Earlier Friday, federal chief medical health officer Dr. Theresa Tam reinforced her support for the use of masks in indoor public places, as several Canadian provinces begin lifting restrictions, including mask mandates.
Tam said masks remain a “fundamental layer of protection,” adding, “The virus is still very much alive. It’s active in your communities.”
British Columbia has not set a date for the removal of its indoor mask mandate, and will not review its vaccine passport requirements until at least mid-March.
Friday also marked the first day rapid tests were being made available for free through local pharmacies to British Columbians aged 70 and over.
The province says it is anticipating another 12 million tests from the federal government, and hopes to expand age eligibility for tests once they arrive.
Since the start of the pandemic, B.C. has reported 347,376 total cases, while 2,841 people have died.
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