COVID-19 hospitalizations up slightly in B.C. after 4-week decline

·3 min read
A child gets a COVID-19 vaccine at a Vancouver clinic in August. B.C. is encouraging everyone five years and older to get a booster dose this fall and is also offering COVID-19 vaccines for children ages six months to four years. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
A child gets a COVID-19 vaccine at a Vancouver clinic in August. B.C. is encouraging everyone five years and older to get a booster dose this fall and is also offering COVID-19 vaccines for children ages six months to four years. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

COVID-19 hospitalizations in B.C. are up slightly after slowly declining for the last four weeks, according to the latest weekly report from the province on Thursday.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) reported 147 people in hospital, an increase of almost six per cent from the week before. Twenty-two people are currently in critical care due to the virus, down three from last week's report.

There were 22 deaths reported this week, bringing the total number of people in B.C. who have died due to COVID-related causes since the beginning of the pandemic to 4,183.

Current hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in B.C.

The province says its weekly numbers are preliminary, and they are often changed retroactively due to delays in the count and the new way it measures weekly cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Deaths are now determined by whether they occurred within 30 days of a positive COVID-19 test and whether or not the coronavirus has been confirmed as an underlying cause.

Last week, the province reported 33 deaths between Aug. 21 and 27, but the number was later increased to 43.

The numbers released Thursday are part of an approach from B.C. health officials that began in April when the province moved to weekly reporting of COVID-19 numbers and changed how certain metrics are calculated.

A total of 617 new cases of COVID-19 were reported from Aug. 21 to 27, a decline of five per cent from last week, though the province says this is likely an underestimation, given that most people are testing themselves and there are fewer lab-reported tests.

In total, 383,054 cases of COVID-10 have been confirmed in B.C. since the pandemic began.

Wastewater viral loads showing mixed results

Metro Vancouver wastewater treatment plants are reporting both increases and declines in SARS-CoV-2 viral loads depending on their location, according to the BCCDC.

Viral loads at the Iona Island treatment plant in Vancouver are up 82 per cent in the last two weeks and up 51 per cent in the last week in northwest Langley.

But levels at two other treatment plants have declined: down 32 per cent at the Annacis Island plant encompassing Fraser North and Fraser South and down10 per cent at the Lulu Island plant in Richmond.

The BCCDC says levels have been stabilizing or increasing at all wastewater treatment plants since dropping from their most recent peaks in late June and early July. But it says additional testing is required to see whether the increases will be sustained.

Fall booster campaign

With the arrival of a new combination — or bivalent — vaccine that targets the Omicron variant BA.1., B.C.'s Ministry of Health is launching a COVID-19 booster campaign ahead of the upcoming flu season.

The bivalent vaccine will be available to all adults over the age of 18 as well as young people ages 12 to 17 with conditions putting them at a higher risk of a severe outcome if they catch the virus.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said everyone five and older is encouraged to get a fall booster six months after their last shot. For those who developed COVID-19 after their last jab, the recommended interval is three months after their infection.

The ministry says parents and guardians should make sure students who are back in school get a booster for updated protection and is offering smaller doses of the Moderna mRNA vaccine to those aged six months to four years.

Invitations to book a booster shot started going out late this week.

Health-care workers and at-risk groups, including those with compromised immunity or a chronic condition, Indigenous people, those in communal living situations and people aged 60 and over, will be first in line.

Anyone looking to get vaccinated for COVID-19 or sign up for a booster shot can register on the government website or phone 1 833-838-2323.