COVID-19 cases are on the rise in British Columbia, with the BC Centre for Disease Control reporting hospitalizations have increased 58 per cent in the past two weeks.
The centre says in its latest update that deaths due to COVID-19 are also trending upwards, with 24 fatalities in the last week of September, compared to nine in the second week of August.
It says new infections rose from 133 cases to 877 cases in the same period, having “increased notably” among people 60 and older.
There were 422 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Thursday, compared to 267 on Sept. 21, and over the same time period, the number in critical care rose from 17 to 26.
The centre says COVID-19 levels detected in wastewater are up at every monitored treatment plant in the province, coinciding with the spike in new cases.
The latest numbers also show more people aged 80 and older have been getting tested for COVID-19 over the last few weeks, with nearly 35 per cent of those coming out positive in the last week of September.
The Fraser Health Authority says there are COVID-19 outbreaks at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, Surrey Memorial Hospital and Chilliwack General Hospital.
Victoria General Hospital also declared a COVID-19 outbreak on Oct. 2, Island Health says.
The CDC says cold and flu activity remain “below pre-pandemic historical levels,” though there has been a recent increase in enterovirus and rhinovirus activity. Levels of respiratory syncytial virus are also low and at levels comparable to before the pandemic.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced last week that mask mandates were returning to health-care settings across B.C. during the respiratory illness season.
The province also announced the rollout of COVID-19 boosters and flu shots, with people most at risk of severe illnesses able to start booking vaccine appointments early this month, and invitations to others beginning Oct. 10.
Health Canada approved new COVID-19 vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna last month.
Henry said last week that receiving vaccines this month will protect against winter illnesses, offering people the “best protection during the period of time when the risk is greatest.”
She said the renewed mask mandate at medical facilities and care homes will be enforced, and made an “appeal” to people’s “better natures” to follow them as a protective measure.
“I encourage everybody to take that point of view and to make sure that you’re doing your part,” she said. “It protects you and it protects those around you.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 5, 2023.