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Active B.C. COVID-19 cases soar to record 27,106

Active infections have jumped more than 30% in past four days
Bonnie Henry - december 2021
Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry addresses media

B.C. health officials continue to detect substantially more new COVID-19 infections than they did one month ago, pushing the number of active infections to a record 27,106.

The number of new cases today, 2,542, was not a record daily total.  

For most of 2021, B.C. had a record of 1,283 COVID-19 infections in a 24-hour period, set April 10. That total was broken on December 21, when officials detected 1,308 new infections. Daily counts then more than tripled to the current record of 4,383 new cases detected on December 30. 

The surge in new infections during the holiday season came as provincial officials tested a peak capacity of more than 20,000 people per day. Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry told vaccinated people who had mild symptoms to stay home and self-isolate if they thought that they had COVID-19, instead of trying to get tested. This was a way to try to preserve testing for people who were more vulnerable to come down with serious illnesses. The result of this policy is that many infections are likely going unreported. 

Henry today advised all employers to allow employees to work from home if possible, and to think of contingency plans for business disruption.

"We need to anticipate that as many as a third of your workforce at any one time may become ill with COVID-19, and they may not be able to come to work," she said. 

The number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals, at 298, is far below the record 515 COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals on April 28. The number of those now in B.C. hospitals with COVID-19 has risen by 78 in the past four days, worrying health officials. 

Of those in hospital, 86 are in intensive care units – 13 more than the last data update on December 31.

Henry explained earlier this year that the province's COVID-19 hospitalization count includes those who went to hospital as a result of a COVID-19 infection but does not include those who remain in hospital after they are deemed no longer infectious. The count also does not include those who contracted COVID-19 while in hospital. 

B.C. hospitals overall remain less crowded than they were last month, Health Minister Adrian Dix revealed this afternoon. He said 9,034 patients are in B.C.'s 11,582 acute-care hospital beds. That is down from 9,335 patients in those beds on December 14. There are also 454 people in B.C.'s 728 intensive-care hospital beds, down from 465 people on December 14, according to Dix's data.

Another four people are known to have died from COVID-19 in B.C. in the past four days, raising the province's pandemic death toll to 2,427.

Of the 266,710 people in B.C. known to have contracted COVID-19, 236,309, or 88.6%, are considered by the government to have recovered. In most cases, that is because they have gone 10 days after first exhibiting symptoms.

B.C.'s Centre for Disease Control in December estimated that most infections in B.C. are the Omicron variant, which spreads more easily than other strains, and health officials believe can cause milder illness. Most cases, however, have not gone through genome sequencing to be officially categorized as Omicron infections.

B.C.'s most recent official count for Omicron cases was 3,878 on December 31.

B.C.'s record 27,106 active COVID-19 infections is more than 30% higher than the record 20,811 active cases, set on December 31. To give a sense of how high that number is, for most of 2021, the record number of active infections in B.C. at any one time was 10,081, reached on April 16. 

The 27,106 known active infections in B.C. include:
• 12,729 in Fraser Health;
• 8,274 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
• 2,250 in Interior Health;
• 737 in Northern Health;
• 3,113 in Island Health; and
• three people who normally live outside B.C.

The 2,542 newly detected infections in the past day are mostly in the densely populated Fraser Health region. Cases include:
• 1,458 in Fraser Health;
• 329 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
• 270 in Interior Health;
• 125 in Northern Health; and
• 360 in Island Health.

Vaccinations have proven effective at reducing the severity of illnesses.

Between December 23 and December 29, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 16% of new cases, and between December 16 and December 29, those individuals accounted for 55% of hospitalizations. 

This is despite the vast majority of people in B.C. being vaccinated.

There are 4,399,771 B.C. residents who have had at least one dose of vaccine, while 4,136,540, or 94% of those, are fully vaccinated with two doses.

The B.C. government estimates that 88.3% of eligible British Columbians, older than five years, have had at least one vaccine shot, while 83% of that eligible population is fully vaccinated with two jabs.

The B.C. government last year estimated that the province's total population is 5,147,712, so Glacier Media's calculation is that almost 85.5% of B.C.'s total population has had at least one dose of vaccine, and more than 80.3% of the province's total population has had two doses. 

B.C. has been increasing access to third doses of vaccine, and 960,090 British Columbians have so far received those shots. 

The province has 24 active outbreaks at health-care facilities.

Nine new health-care facility outbreaks include:
• Surrey Memorial Hospital;
• The Residence in Mission long term care facility in Mission;
• Czorny Alzheimer Centre in Surrey;
• Hawthorne Lodge in Port Coquitlam;
• Joseph & Rosalie Segal Family Care Centre in Vancouver;
• Fraserview Retirement Community in Richmond;
• Lakeview Care Centre in Vancouver;
• Mount Cartier Court in Revelstoke; and
• Victoria General Hospital. •