More than 50 critical care patients in British Columbia’s Northern Health Authority have been transferred to Vancouver Island or the Lower Mainland, painting a grim picture of the region’s COVID-19 situation.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix addressed the scenario on Tuesday. Dix, in particular, spoke about how the vast majority of ICU patients were not fully vaccinated.
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“The situation at Northern Health Authority is extremely serious at the moment,” he said. “55 critical care patients have been transferred to hospitals on Vancouver Island, the Fraser Health Authority, and Vancouver Coastal Health.”
Of the 55 people, 43 have tested positive for COVID-19; 42 of those individuals are not fully vaccinated.
Dix adds that over the Thanksgiving long weekend, four people were transferred on Friday, five people on Saturday, one person on Sunday, and four more people on Monday.
He also addressed Northern Health Authority’s critical care capacity, stressing that in pre-pandemic circumstances, it can typically handle the ongoing demand. An additional 23 surge beds have been added to the North’s critical care capacity for a total of 63.
“We have 40 critical care base beds in all of Northern British Columbia,” Dix explained. “There are 42 patients with COVID-19 from the North in critical care. Not just sick enough to be in hospital but in critical care today.”
Henry also spoke on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Northern BC, adding that additional measures and booster shots are being considered.
“We have been closely monitoring the situation in the North, and my public health colleagues and I are very concerned with what we continue to see in many communities across the North,” she says. “COVID-19 is spreading at a higher-than-average rate. People are becoming severely ill. Even young people. Mostly unvaccinated younger people. And hospitals are pushed to the limit across the North.”
“This is directly related to the vaccination rates in communities where people are living.”