B.C.’s health minister confirmed the province is entering its third wave of the Omicron COVID-19 variant as hospitalizations jumped 35 per cent in the last week.
A day after Ontario announced its third wave, Adrian Dix said cases in British Columbia are also trending upwards, though not as significantly as hospitalizations.
“We’re not seeing a major increase in critical care in the most severe outcomes for people who are in hospital and are positive for COVID-19,” said Dix in an interview with Early Edition host Stephen Quinn.
As of Thursday, 369 people are in hospital with the novel coronavirus, including 36 in intensive care, according to the B.C. COVID-19 dashboard.
That’s an increase of 35 per cent in overall hospitalizations from last Thursday, when the province reported 273 people in hospital. The number of patients in ICU is up 12.5 per cent from 32 a week ago.
The government says its weekly numbers are preliminary. It has been retroactively adjusting them due to delays in the count and the new way in which it measures weekly cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Health Minister Adrian Dix attends a COVID-19 briefing in Vancouver on Monday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
The numbers released Thursday are part of an approach from B.C. health officials started earlier this year, both in the move to weekly reporting and in how certain metrics are calculated.
Another 24 deaths were recorded from COVID-19 in the province from June 26 to July 2, which includes everyone who died within 30 days of testing positive for COVID-19, whether or not the virus has been confirmed as an underlying cause of death.
Test positivity rates are up slightly, hitting an average 9.1 per cent provincewide on Saturday, compared to 7.5 per cent the previous week.
New details coming Friday on B.C.’s immunization plan
Dix did not hint towards any new public health measures being implemented to stem the new wave of Omicron being driven by the BA.5 subvariant, and said British Columbia continues to focus on immunization as its best defence against COVID-19, reiterating that vaccines continue to provide strong protection by making hospitalization five times less likely and death seven times less likely.
“Those others who’ve been invited have been invited to get your fourth dose. Get your fourth dose,” said Dix.
A COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver in January 2022. Health Minister Adrian Dix is recommending people who received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to get their booster, or third dose. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
According to the minister, half of those eligible for a fourth dose have already received it.
However, he said, an important category of people who received two doses but have not yet gotten a booster need to get their booster now.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has warned that respiratory illness season will pose a challenge this fall.
“That is where we expect to be challenged again with COVID-19 and the need for people to get an extra dose in the fall, regardless of how many doses they’ve received so far,” said Dix.
Health authorities also announced a press conference Friday at 1 p.m. to provide an update on B.C.’s immunization plan. Health Minister Adrian Dix will be in attendance as well as Dr. Martin Lavoie, B.C.’s acting provincial health officer, and Dr. Penny Ballem, executive lead of B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan.
LISTEN | Minister of Health Adrian Dix on the province’s response to a third Omicron wave
The Early Edition14:24Minister Adrian Dix — third wave of infections of new Omicron variants in BC
The provincial government may make fourth doses of covid-19 vaccines widely available in the Fall. This, as we hear more of a third Omicron wave. We hear from Minister of Health Adrian Dix on that.