COVID-19: Huge jump in Omicron variant cases not reflected in hospitalizations

Despite as many as 50,000 new cases over the past five days, only 107 people were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 in B.C.

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There were just over 100 people admitted to hospital over the past five days suffering from COVID-19, despite as many as 50,000 new cases of the disease appearing in B.C. over the same period.

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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported 2,944 new cases of COVID-19 over the past day, as Omicron variant infection accelerates throughout the province.

She said that the true number of new cases in the community was between three and four times that many, which is around 10,000. This is because the testing capacity in the system is tapped out at around 20,000 tests per day, rapid tests results are generally not reported and people are being advised not to test if they feel sick (just assume you have COVID-19, Henry says).

This means that the number of active cases being reported (16,014) is also well under the true number of active cases in the community, despite that number jumping by 5,599 since Dec. 24.

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However, latest data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control shows 107 people were admitted to hospital in B.C. from Dec. 24 to Tuesday (12,746 to 12,853) suffering from COVID-19. There are currently 206 people with an active case of the disease in hospital, including 66 in intensive care.

Henry said five people had died from the disease over the past five days.

She said the Omicron variant was spreading aggressively throughout the community and had a shorter incubation period than other variants – meaning you get sicker quicker. She said vaccination remained the key tool to dealing with the variant.

People who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 no longer have to self isolate if they are asymptomatic, Henry said, noting Omnicron variant symptoms are milder than earlier variants.

Health minister Adrian Dix said that 75,000 tests had been performed over the past several days – leading to a seven-day average test positive rate of almost 15 per cent (a record).

More to come.

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