Unprecedented Surge in COVID-19 Hospitalizations Rock British Columbia Amid Omicron Rise


Over the past month, British Columbia has seen a staggering increase in its COVID-19 hospitalizations, with patient numbers skyrocketing from a relatively low 76 to a whopping 241 – a more than threefold increase as reported by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. This figure, collected Thursday, represents the highest number of infections since May 4th, when there were 268 hospitalizations due to the virus.

Adding to the growing concern, British Columbia was the first province in Canada to confirm a local case of the BA.2.86 variant with some mutations that are considered troubling by experts, as remarked by a renowned Toronto-based infectious disease expert, Dr. Isaac Bogoch.

Further compounding on the situation, the province witnessed a notable rise in SARS-CoV-2 concentrations detected in B.C.’s wastewater – a dataset still released weekly. However, amongst the mounting concern, the BCCDC reassured the public that no further samples of the disturbing BA.2.86 variant have been discovered within the province’s whole genome sequencing.

Within the most recent weeks, most COVID-19 infections have been identified as either the EG.5 or XBB.1.16 variants, as per the BCCDC. Nevertheless, these various strains are deemed versions of the Omicron variant, the strain that dominated late 2021.

The current tally of 241 COVID-19 patients in British Columbia hospitals may be the highest in months, but it’s still relatively low, considering the exponential totals undergone throughout 2022.

The numbers since January 2022, demonstrate the patients counted in B.C. hospitals, regardless of whether their admission was due to COVID-19 or they tested positive incidentally whilst hospitalized for unrelated ailments. The latter situation accounts for about 50 to 60 percent of the count, according to health officials.

Evidently, the BCCDC’s hospitalization count, especially the weekly admissions (a variable distinct from currently hospitalized individuals), serves more as a swift surveillance tool instead of an exhaustive exploration of COVID-19’s impact on the healthcare system.

Adding a spin to the narrative, data released last month by the Canadian Institute for Health Information showed a significant discrepancy with the BCCDC’s report: thousands more hospitalizations between April 2022 and April 2023. Yet, both agencies stress that no mistakes occurred; their count is simply rooted in distinct, non-comparable methodologies.


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