COVID-19 restrictions extended in B.C. as hospital capacity threatened | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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COVID-19 restrictions extended in B.C. as hospital capacity threatened

Patio-only service is continuing in B.C.
April 19, 2021 - 2:04 PM

All COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place in B.C. at least through the May long weekend, health authorities announced today.

The extension of restrictions, such as banning indoor dining in restaurants, came during a news briefing by provincial health authorities today, April 19, that outlined the risk to the health care system because of the growing number of COVID-19 cases.

“Overall provincial occupancy rates remain under but close to base-bed capacity which is unusual compared to pre-COVID-19 years, which would be generally higher,” the Ministry of Health briefing documents say. “However, (there is) some significant regional and site variation in terms of occupancy and (the) underlying one-year stress and tiredness of hospital staff working in COVID-19 environments."

The restrictions remain in place as people are asked to limit in-person social interactions, be careful about who they see and limit travel. That means not travelling for recreation or vacation until after the May long weekend.

As of April 13, there were 8,822 occupied beds in B.C. hospitals, with another 3,117 vacant. While the overall number of vacancies may look good, there are individual hospitals that are overloaded.

No hospital beds have been needed for influenza patients, which has helped. Normally in April, 20 to 23 per cent of beds and 10 to 12 per cent of intensive care beds would have been used for respiratory illnesses, a major portion being influenza, the documents say.

In the last month, the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 grew to 298 from 220. Those in critical care grew to 127 from 83.

In the Interior Health region, the base bed capacity has reached 98 per cent with some use of surge (extra) beds. However, the critical care capacity in the region is better at 80 per cent.

In some health regions, some surgeries have been postponed when individual hospitals, particularly in the Fraser Health region, have reached capacity. More of that may be needed elsewhere if COVID cases continue to grow.

The next two weeks are critical, provincial health officials said. Scheduled surgeries and procedures may be postponed so that staff can be freed up to help out with COVID cases.

There is some optimism that, as the traditional influenza season comes to an end, there will be a slowdown in COVID transmission, as happened last year.

The other hope for beating COVID is to get everyone who is eligible vaccinated by the end of June. Currently about 30 per cent of B.C. adults have had one dose of vaccine. The expectation is to hit 60 per cent by the end of May, and everyone should be immunized by the end of June. It’s expected everyone will get a second dose by the end of September.

The rules put in place a few weeks ago seem to be working as the rate of increases in the number of daily cases is starting to decline, as illustrated in the graph from the B.C. Centre of Disease Control below.

The green line on this graph shows that the number of new COVID-19 cases each day in B.C. is flattening out.
The green line on this graph shows that the number of new COVID-19 cases each day in B.C. is flattening out.
Image Credit: Submitted/B.C. Centre for Disease Control

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