There are now more patients in hospital with COVID-19 in B.C. than at any other point in the pandemic, health officials said Wednesday.
In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of patients hospitalized with the disease at 397, 120 of whom are in intensive care.
Hospitalizations have risen by 20 per cent since last Wednesday, when there were 330 patients in hospital.
The news comes as the province confirmed another 1,168 cases of the novel coronavirus and six more deaths on Wednesday. There are 9,821 active cases of the virus across B.C.
The provincial death toll from the disease now stands at 1,521 people out of 114,870 confirmed cases to date.
Public health is actively monitoring 16,304 people across the province who are in self-isolation because of COVID-19 exposure.
At this point in the pandemic, about 9.9 per cent of all COVID-19 tests in B.C. are positive. In the Northern Health region, the positivity rate rises to 13.6 per cent. The test positivity rate is a metric that health officials use to measure community transmission.
In the past, Henry has said anything over five per cent is concerning.
So far, 1,190,832 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 87,820 second doses. A record 41,839 have received their shot within the last 24 hours.
Adults 55 and up urged to book vaccine appointment
B.C. is currently vaccinating all eligible adults in transmission hot spots like Whistler and Prince Rupert, while the provincewide age-based program rolls on.
Everyone over the age of 55 is now eligible to receive a vaccine.
"We strongly encourage everyone who is now eligible for a vaccine to arrange for your appointment today. This not only protects you but also provides greater protection to everyone around you," Henry and Dix said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Vancouver Coastal Health confirmed Wednesday night that vaccinations will begin this week for police officers, firefighters and teachers and school staff in the region. The health authority told CBC News in an email that immunizations will be offered first in areas "that are at increased risk as a result of recent COVID-19 transmission in their communities."
The province on Monday announced dates for those aged 40 and older to register for their vaccine:
Monday, April 12 — born 1966 or earlier (age 55+)
Wednesday, April 14 — born 1971 or earlier (50+)
Friday, April 16 — born 1976 or earlier (45+)
Monday, April 19 — born 1981 or earlier (40+)
Registering for a vaccine is not the same as booking the appointment to get your shot. Once registered, users receive a confirmation code, followed by an email, a text or a call telling them when they're eligible to use the code to make an appointment.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday during an interview on CBC's Daybreak South there will be 44 million doses of vaccine in the country by Canada Day — more than enough for everyone to receive a first dose.
Also on Wednesday, Health Canada officials announced that following a safety review of the AstraZeneca vaccine, they believe there is only a "very low risk" of blood clotting associated with the product and it is safe to use.
B.C. has paused use of the vaccine in anyone under the age of 55 following reports of a rare condition called vaccine-induced thrombocytopenia (VIPIT) in younger people in Europe.
In response to the Health Canada news on Wednesday, Henry and Dix said they were pleased.
We've been following this closely, and we await the recommendations from the National Advisory Council on Immunization to determine how to best use this vaccine going forward to further enhance our protection," they said.