COVID-19 in B.C.: 646 in hospital; community transmission may have peaked; pediatric cases on the rise

In a wide-ranging briefing, Dr. Bonnie Henry offered some room for optimism that the Omicron wave may be on the downswing

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      B.C.'s provincial health officer says it appears as though community transmission of COVID-19 peaked last weekend.

      Dr. Bonnie Henry made the comment in a January 14 briefing with reporters.

      "Our test positivity has been very high—and it's been in the 20s in the last while," Henry said. "We've seen in this past week, particularly, that we started to see a decrease in the test positivity and in the number of cases in PCR positives.'

      She noted that Ontario and Quebec are "slightly ahead of us" in where they are in the current wave of Omicron cases. And she said that they each are starting to see a decrease in community transmissions.

      "Other places in Canada...are slightly behind us and they're very much on the upswing," Henry added.

      She said that people will have to wait until Tuesday (January 18) for an update on whether the province plans to extend or end a provincial health order that has shut down gyms, dance studios, fitness facilities, nightclubs, and pubs that don't serve food.

      Record number of hospitalizations

      Even if it turns out that community transmissions have peaked in B.C. (though Henry conceded that this isn't the case in the Northern Health Region), hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are still on an upward trajectory in B.C.

      Today, B.C. reported a record 646 people in hospital as a result of COVID-19. That was up dramatically from yesterday's figure of 534. But the number in intensive care fell from 102 to 95 over 24 hours.

      Six new deaths were reported, bringing the provincewide total of COVID-19 fatalities to 2,468 since March 2020.

      Henry said that there's been increased hospitalization in young people and a "dramatic increase" for those over 70. But the rate remains highest in people over the age of 80.

      The provincial health officer also highlighted the risks of not being vaccinated. For example, she said that those without any protection from the virus are 12 times more likely to be hospitalized and 27 times more likely to wind up in an intensive-care unit.

      "It shows us that vaccination is protective for people having severe illness and staying out of hospital," Henry said.

      More kids being hospitalized

      As far as pediatric cases go, there were nine admissions to hospital in the 0 to 4 age group. There were two admissions of children from 5 to 11 and two from 12 to 17.

      The number of pediatric daily cases has risen sharply this month with the spread of the Omicron variant.

      "Thankfully, we have not seen any of these children yet requiring critical care and we've got no new deaths in this age group," Henry said. "But this reflects again the fact that this virus is spreading widely in our community."

      There's been only one case of a child being hospitalized in B.C. after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.