B.C. health officials reported 990 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Friday, including 141 in intensive care, as the province recorded nine more deaths from the disease and 2,137 new cases.
The new numbers represent an increase of 13 COVID-19 patients hospitalized within the last 24 hours. There was no change in the number of people in the ICU.
Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are up seven per cent from last Friday, when 924 people were in hospital with the disease.
Due to a data reporting change introduced Jan. 14, month-to-month hospitalization comparisons won't be available again until Feb. 14.
The number of patients in intensive care is up by about eight per cent from 130 a week ago and by 53 per cent from a month ago when 66 people were in the ICU.
Experts say hospitalizations are a more accurate barometer of the disease's impact, as new case numbers in B.C. are likely much higher than reported, now that the province has hit its testing limit because of the Omicron surge.
As of Thursday, 21.6 per cent of COVID-19 tests in B.C. are coming back positive, according to the province's COVID-19 dashboard.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that anything above a five per cent test-positivity rate indicates a concerning level of community transmission.
There are currently 30,515 recorded active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C.
The provincial death toll from COVID-19 is now 2,597 lives lost out of 321,043 confirmed cases to date.
There are a total of 58 active outbreaks in assisted living, long-term, and acute care facilities.
Acute care outbreaks include:
Surrey Memorial Hospital.
Langley Memorial Hospital.
Peace Arch Hospital.
Royal Jubilee Hospital.
Victoria General Hospital.
Nanaimo Regional Hospital.
Cowichan District Hospital.
As of Friday, 89.8 per cent of those five and older in B.C. had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 83.8 per cent a second dose.
A total of 2,031,592 people have received a booster shot to date.
2 unprecedented years
Friday marks two years to the day when the first case of COVID-19 was detected in B.C.
Henry and Dix announced it at a news conference on Jan. 28, 2020. Since then, British Columbians have experienced social isolation, multiple health orders and the arrival of vaccines.
The pandemic itself has also shifted with the introduction of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.
Health officials say contact tracing is no longer an effective way of controlling the spread of the virus and are asking British Columbians to self-monitor for symptoms, follow health orders and, above all, get vaccinated to help protect society's most vulnerable.
"We are not at the point where we're just throwing in the towel and saying, 'Do nothing.' What we're saying is, 'All of us have to continue to do what we're doing and it's working,'" said Henry, speaking Friday morning on CBC Radio's The Current.
Vaccine cards for 12-year-olds
An updated provincial health order now requires children age 12 to only have one dose of a vaccine to enter an event or setting where proof of vaccination is required.
As of Feb. 1, children and youth will be allowed to participate in sports tournaments.
B.C. health officials say the order was updated after it was pointed out to them that 11 year olds with one dose of a pediatric vaccine would be denied entry to these settings once they turned 12 because they had only had one dose of the vaccine and hadn't had enough time to get a second.
"This change is aimed at fairness for this age group, while they are waiting for the recommended time to receive their second dose," the Ministry of Health said in a written statement.