Fraser Valley Bandits mascot Berry helps out at Maple Ridge COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Haney Place Mall on Tuesday, as a little boy received his jab from pharmacist immunizer Ana Costa. Berry was handing out stickers. (Colleen Flanagan/Maple Ridge News)

Fraser Valley Bandits mascot Berry helps out at Maple Ridge COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Haney Place Mall on Tuesday, as a little boy received his jab from pharmacist immunizer Ana Costa. Berry was handing out stickers. (Colleen Flanagan/Maple Ridge News)

B.C. COVID-19 hospital cases rise, but few more in intensive care

Many testing positive after being admitted for other conditions

B.C.’s COVID-19 hospital cases rose by 35 in the past 24 hours to a new high for the pandemic, but it remains unclear how many of those are due to coronavirus disease and how many may have picked up the fast-spreading Omicron variant without significant effect.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said as of Jan. 18, there are 854 people in B.C. hospitals with active COVID-19 infections, up from 819 in the past 24 hours, with 112 of them in intensive care, up from 99 on Monday. B.C.’s health authorities have begun reporting all cases patient admitted and testing positive, which accounts for some of the increase this week.

With one large sample of tests in the Vancouver Coastal region indicating as many as half of new hospital admissions are “incidental” COVID-19 infection, the newly dominant Omicron variant continues to show it is causing less serious illness.

Dix said that despite the coronavirus effect on the health care system, with large numbers of health care staff calling in sick due to respiratory symptoms this week, B.C.’s health care system is currently less overcrowded than it would be in an normal influenza season. Of B.C.’s 9,229 base hospital beds, 8,778 or 95.1 per cent are occupied as of Jan. 18.

“Typically it’s more than 100 per cent at this time of year,” Dix said.

B.C. health authorities continue to operate scheduled appointment COVID-19 vaccination clinics around the province for residents age five and older. Registration and booking appointments in B.C. can be done online here, or by calling 1-833-838-2323 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week.

RELATED: B.C. reopening gyms, fitness centres Thursday with rules

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