BC hospital admissions break record, respiratory illness season

Adrian Dix says it’s a “particularly challenging time” for the health system.

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British Columbia hospitals are treating a record number of patients as the province’s respiratory illness season nears its peak, and the health minister says the situation is challenging but being managed.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a briefing Wednesday that 10,435 people were in hospital as of Tuesday night, the most the province “has ever seen,” and many have respiratory illnesses.

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He said it was a “challenging time” for the healthcare system, but it could “absolutely” handle the surge.

Dix said that while flu cases have been filling wards, hospitals are also “setting records for surgeries.”

Hospitals across the province are implementing capacity and treatment initiatives to manage the numbers, Dix said.

“All health authorities are and continue to be prepared for the increase in pediatric respiratory diseases,” he stated. “This includes BC Children’s Hospital. “These actions ensure we can continue to provide the care patients need during this busy time.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said cases of influenza A and respiratory syncytial virus are high across British Columbia and are expected to peak in the next week.

COVID-19 cases are also showing signs of increasing in recent weeks, with 219 people in hospital and 26 in intensive care, he said.

But he said “almost all” people in British Columbia have some degree of immunity, due to infection or vaccination.

Henry said recent preliminary data indicates that 83 per cent of people in British Columbia have had COVID-19, although many may not have realized it because they were vaccinated and had mild cases.

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Henry said the respiratory illness season appears to be returning to similar patterns as before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now we have COVID-19 in the mix, but what we are seeing are much more common patterns compared to what we saw last year, where we saw influenza, COVID-19 and RSV peak very early November and decreased at the end. of the year,” he said.

Last year, people used the term “tripledemia” to describe the early outbreaks of COVID-19, influenza and RSV, Henry said.

“We are not out of the woods yet and we will continue to see high rates of influenza and RSV over the coming weeks,” he said. “I’m hoping that if the pattern we’ve seen before continues, we’ll be able to have a peak in the next week,” she said.

Henry said the flu has contributed to the deaths of three children under the age of 10 in British Columbia in recent weeks and has seen outbreaks in at least two dozen long-term care facilities.

One of the children who died was under the age of five, Henry said, and secondary bacterial infections contributed to the deaths of all three children.

Six British Columbia children and youth died during last year’s respiratory illness season.

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