B.C. continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic's fourth wave, with more now in hospital than any time since May 14.
There are 378 COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals, with 153 of those in intensive care units.
Another 580 individuals have had infections detected in the past 24 hours. The vast majority of the 5,348 people infected have been told to self-isolate at home.
Some good news is that with 14,581 tests conducted in the past day, the positive-test rate has fallen below 4% for the first time in a while.
Unfortunately, another nine people died from the pandemic overnight, raising the province's COVID-19 death toll to 2,042.
Earlier today, Health Minister Adrian Dix sounded the alarm that the pandemic is getting worse, not better, in the Northern Health region. He said 58 severely ill hospital patients in that region have been transferred to other parts of B.C. for care – primarily the Vancouver Coastal Health and Island Health regions.
There are a total of 40 ICU beds in the Northern Health region, with 23 so-called "surge" beds added during the pandemic. That low number of ICU beds is what has necessitated the province moving seriously ill COVID-19 patients hundreds of kilometres from their loved ones.
The high number of seriously infected Northern Health residents prompted provincial health officer Bonnie Henry to put in place new restrictions for the part of that health region that is not west of Kitwanga, including Terrace, Kitimat, Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Stikine, Telegraph and Snow Country.
Starting October 15, and for the two incubation periods until November 19, residents in the eastern part of Northern Health will only be able to have personal gatherings, whether indoor or outdoor, if all attendees are fully vaccinated.
"If you are unvaccinated, or have unvaccinated people in your household, then you need to stay with your household," Henry said.
"Indoor gatherings will remain restricted to five people, and outdoor gathering to 25 people, if they are all fully vaccinated. All indoor and outdoor organized events – so these are the weddings, or parties that we're having with an organized event –require a safety plan, a COVID-19 safety plan like what we had in place. It requires everybody to wear masks, and to ensure that everybody is fully vaccinated. That means using the BC Vaccine Card to ensure that any attendees are fully vaccinated."
Henry also mandated that all worship services in the eastern Northern Health region be virtual. Alcohol service in those areas' restaurants must stop at 10 p.m. Nightclubs that do not serve meals must close.
To show how badly hit the Northern Health region is, Glacier Media's broke down the 580 new infections by health region, for each 10,000 residents (with total new cases in brackets):
• 1.4 in Fraser Health (246);
• 0.4 in Vancouver Coastal Health (53);
• 1.4 in Interior Health (104);
• 4.3 in Northern Health (129); and
• 0.6 in Island Health (48).
There were no known new infections in people who normally do not reside in B.C.
The result by health region, for the 5,348 people fighting active infections, for each 10,000 residents (with total new cases in brackets) is:
• 13.6 in Fraser Health (2,449);
• 5.7 in Vancouver Coastal Health (708);
• 11.2 in Interior Health (831);
• 22.6 in Northern Health (677); and
• 7.4 in Island Health (625).
There are 58 active infections in the province in people who normally reside outside B.C.
In total, 195,766 British Columbians have contracted the disease since the first case was detected in the province in January, 2020.
Of those, 96%, or 187,985 people, are deemed by the province to have recovered because they have gone more than 10 days after first feeling symptoms, and are therefore considered to be not infectious.
Unvaccinated people continue to be largely responsible for much of the disease's spread. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Bonnie Henry have each called the phenomenon the "pandemic of the unvaccinated."
Across B.C., 89% of eligible adults older than 12 have had at least one dose of vaccine, with 82.9% of those eligible people having had two doses, according to the B.C. government.
Of the 4,123,354 B.C. residents who have received one dose of vaccine since mid-December, 2020, nearly 93.1%, or 3,842,247, are fully vaccinated, with two doses.
There were no new health-care facility outbreaks, leaving a total of 19 active outbreaks in those hospitals and seniors' homes. •