COVID-19 cases in B.C. hospitals hit highest point since August last week

Click to play video: 'B.C.’s holiday season COVID-19 numbers'
B.C.’s holiday season COVID-19 numbers
WATCH: Legislative bureau chief Keith Baldrey takes a look at the latest COVID-19 numbers for the 2022 holiday season – Jan 2, 2023

The number of COVID-19 cases in B.C. hospitals climbed to its highest point since early August last week, and health officials say they’re preparing the system for possibly higher numbers this month.

According to the Ministry of Health, the number of cases in hospital jumped to 399 on Dec. 28 before falling to 386 on Friday — 10 per cent higher than the Friday prior.

The number of patients in critical care remained fairly steady, with 386 as of Friday, Dec. 30.

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The province’s hospitalization model counts all cases in hospitals, regardless of the patient’s initial reason for admission.

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The ministry said people who are unvaccinated or have not received updated booster shots continue to be disproportionately represented among those in critical care.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is not scheduled to provide its next full data update on COVID and other respiratory diseases until Thursday.

However, in an interview Monday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there appears to be an improvement in the fight against a particularly nasty wave of influenza that hit the province this fall and winter.

Click to play video: 'New COVID-19 subvariant spreading through U.S., Asia'
New COVID-19 subvariant spreading through U.S., Asia

“Thankfully we’re seeing influenza, especially in young children and young people, level off and come down, which is kind of what we expected with the very early sharp increase that we saw,” she said.

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“RSV is still an issue, particularly for younger children … and COVID is again mostly affecting older people and people who are not yet vaccinated, and we still see that is one of the biggest risk factors for ending up with more severe disease and ending up hospitalized.”

The update comes as B.C. monitors the spread of the Omicron subvariant XBB 1.5, nicknamed the Kraken, which is spreading rapidly in Asia and now makes up about four in 10 cases in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Click to play video: 'Data shows COVID-19 hospitalizations in B.C. increasing'
Data shows COVID-19 hospitalizations in B.C. increasing

“What we don’t know is, is this a strain that is going to cause more severe illness and hospitalization innately,” Henry said of the subvariant.

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Over the weekend, the federal government announced it would require people arriving in Canada from China, Hong Kong and Macao to show a negative COVID-19 test result before departing for Canada.

The Vancouver International Airport also announced plans to increase wastewater surveillance this Thursday.

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