B.C. health officials on Wednesday reported 276 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 43 in intensive care, as the province reported six more deaths from the disease and 291 new cases.
The new numbers represent an increase of three COVID-19 patients hospitalized and three fewer patients in ICU within the last 24 hours.
Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are up seven percent from last Wednesday when 258 people were in hospital with the disease and a month ago when 523 people were in hospital, About 47 percent were less then.
The number of patients in intensive care is down about 12 percent from 49 a week ago and 48 percent less than a month ago, when 83 people were in the ICU.
As of Wednesday, 6.9 percent of COVID-19 tests in BC are coming back positive, according to the province’s COVID-19 dashboard. That number was more than 20 percent for most of January, but started falling with hospitalizations in February. Test positivity stood at 5.6 per cent earlier this month, but is slowly coming back since March 21.
Provincial health officer Dr Bonnie Henry has said anything above a five percent test-positivity rate is an indicator of a more worrying level of transmission.
The provincial death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 2,996, out of 356,252 confirmed cases lost so far.
There are seven active outbreaks in assisted life, long-term and acute care facilities, including outbreaks at Surrey Memorial Hospital.
As of Wednesday, 90.8 percent of those five and older in B.C. had received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 87.3 percent had received the second dose. This number has been stable for several days.
From March 22 to 28, those who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 17.7 percent of cases and from March 15 to 28, they hospitalized 20.4 percent, according to the province.
A total of 2.6 million people have received a third shot.
Possible fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine
Although less than 60 percent of eligible adults have received their COVID-19 booster dose so far, a fourth dose is now being explored to help reduce immunity.
Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends fourth shot For moderate to severely immunocompromised individuals Six months after his third dose. In the US, regulators earlier this week authorized the fourth dose of Pfizer-BioNtech’s COVID-19 vaccine for Americans 50 and older.
mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were tested as a two-shot regimen. That said, the three doses have been proven to provide strong protection against serious illness.
According to virologist Angela Rasmussen, for anyone who is at high risk of getting severe COVID – including seniors and immunocompromised – a fourth shot is a “very good idea” and offers significant additional protection.
“However, for many people who don’t fit those categories, it’s hard to say whether a fourth shot is going to provide much of an advantage over a third shot, especially long term,” said Rasmussen, a researcher at the university. Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Organization of Saskatchewan.