COVID-19 in B.C.: More than 500 hospitalized cases; non-urgent surgeries suspended; and more

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      The new case count has risen to the 1,000 mark once again.

      In addition, hospitalizations have risen to a new record high above the 500 case mark, which B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry called “alarming”.

      Consequently, the pressure on the B.C. healthcare system has prompted changes to surgeries, which B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix outlined at today's briefing (see below).

      Today (April 22), the federal government announced restrictions on travel to India and Pakistan. For more information, see this article.

      Hospitals and surgeries

      Henry and Dix warned during their presentation on April 19, the high number of COVID-19 cases in the province has resulted in record levels of hospitalizations.

      These hospitalized cases thereby impact other healthcare services and systems, which Henry said are under “immense” pressure.

      Dix explained that because staff are being reassigned to surge capacities, other services will have to be decreased.

      Consequently, the B.C. healthcare system has had to take action by suspending non-urgent scheduled surgeries.

      "This is a temporary measure to ensure we can continue to care for everyone who is seriously ill and needs urgent care—whether they have COVID-19 or another illness,” Henry and Dix explained in their joint statement. “We recognize this will have an impact on those who have been waiting their turn, and we will work to reschedule these surgeries as soon as we can.”

      Dix said that there are about 1,750 non-urgent surgeries postponed in Metro Vancouver due to limited capacities caused by COVID-19 cases. That includes 1,000 surgeries in Fraser Health and 750 surgeries in Vancouver Coastal Health.

      The following hospitals will only conduct urgent and emergency surgeries for a minimum of two weeks:

      • Abbotsford Regional General Hospital
      • Burnaby Hospital
      • Surrey Memorial Hospital
      • Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster
      • Vancouver General Hospital
      • Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver
      • Richmond Hospital
      • St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver
      • UBC Hospital in Vancouver

      B.C. update: April 22

      Henry stated that there are 1,006 new cases in B.C. today. By region, that total includes:

      • 600 in Fraser Health (60 percent);
      • 241 in Vancouver Coastal Health (24 percent);
      • 83 in Interior Health (eight percent);
      • 42 in Northern Health (four percent);
      • 37 in Island Health (four percent);
      • three people from outside of Canada.

      Active cases continue to decline. Currently, there are 8,733 active cases, which is a decrease of 173 cases since yesterday.

      In addition, the number of people being monitored by public health also continues to decrease. Public health is monitoring 12,846 people (for exposures to confirmed cases), which is a drop of 289 people since yesterday.

      The number of hospitalized cases has surpassed the 500 case mark. At the moment, there are 502 people are in hospitals, which is an increase of 19 people since yesterday and once again sets a new record. Of those patients, 161 are in intensive care units, which is a decrease of three people.

      Sadly, there are four new deaths, which brings the total fatalities during the pandemic to 1,550 people who have died.

      Dix said that the new deaths include one person in Fraser Health, one person in Island Health, and two people in Interior Health.

      A cumulative total of 112,235 people have now recovered.

      During the pandemic, B.C. has reported a cumulative total of 122,757 cases.

      Henry and Dix stated that as of today, B.C. has confirmed 42 cases of the B1617 (India) variant.


      Henry said that there have been 1,500,430 vaccines administered, and 88,475 of those are second doses.

      Henry mentioned at today’s briefing that she expects that vaccines, which are currently being studied, will “likely” be available for children and teenagers in the autumn.

      Outbreaks and exposures

      Today Island Health declared an outbreak in two houses Mount St. Mary longterm care home in Victoria, where one resident and one staff member have tested positive.

      Island Health also provided update on the outbreak in the high-intensity rehab unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, which was originally declared on April 14. With two new cases confirmed (one patient and one staff member), there are now seven cases (six patients and one staff member) involved in this outbreak. The rest of the hospital remains unaffected and operational.

      None of the five regional health authorities declared any new community outbreaks and none of them listed any new public exposure events.

      Henry said that there are 12 active outbreaks in healthcare facilities: five in longterm care facilities and seven in acute care units.

      McDonald’s listed its 10920 Alaska Road location in Fort Saint John as having an employee who tested positive and who last worked there on April 16.

      Loblaw has listed two locations of Real Canadian Superstore which have had staff members who tested positive:

      • one employee who last worked on on April 13 at 350 Southeast Marine Drive in Vancouver;
      • an employee who last worked on April 16 at 4651 No. 3 Road in Richmond;

      Sobeys has listed three Safeway locations where staff members have tested positive:

      • one employee who last worked on April 15 at 780–2601 Westview Drive in North Vancouver; 
      • an employee who last worked on April 16 at 9123 100 Street in Fort St. John;
      • one employee who last worked on April 18 at 1611 Davie Street in Vancouver.

      Workplace closures

      Interior, Island, Northern, and Vancouver Coastal Health have not listed any new closures.

      Fraser Health listed the following 11 worksite closures due to COVID-19:

      April 20:

      Budget Kitchen Cabinets (6–13140 88th Avenue) in Surrey

      Nexus Insurance Brokers (303–566 Lougheed Highway) in Coquitlam

      Ocean Park Ford (3050 King George Boulevard) in Surrey

      Just for Kicks School of Dance (13580 62nd Avenue) in Surrey

      April 21:

      ECCO Manufacturing—Langley distribution (19860 Fraser Highway) in Langley

      Absolute Results (104–2677 192 Street) in Surrey

      GFR Pharma (65 North Bend Street) in Coquitlam

      Hyde Barber Lounge (120–15335 56th Avenue) in Surrey, where a public exposure event was listed

      King Hoe Excavating—landfill site only (5400 72nd Street) in Delta

      Webster and Associates (300–2955 Gladwin Road) in Abbotsford

      Highland Van and Storage (8238 Swenson Way) in Delta

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.