All five of B.C.’s regional health authorities are rebooking postponed surgeries after more than 8,000 patients were kept waiting since late September by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Minister Adrian Dix says.
With the fourth wave of COVID-19 declining, nearly half of those delayed procedures have been completed and fewer are being postponed, Dix said at a pandemic briefing from Victoria March 1. Almost all of the postponed surgeries from previous waves of the pandemic have been caught up, with fewer health care staff in acute care, long-term care and home support taking sick days themselves as the Omicron wave of infections declines, he said.
“Each week the number is lower, although it’s still above what we would normally expect at this time of year, but it shows the same thing as other indicators that [provincial health officer] Dr. Bonnie Henry has referred to, which is the fact that hospitalizations are less half of what they were at the peak of the wave of the omicron variant of concern,” Dix said.
Regional infection rates vary, and during the week of Feb. 20 to 26, another 99 non-urgent surgeries were postponed, most of them in Interior Health.
“In many parts of our province, the transmission of COVID is down, which in turn, is relieving the intense pressure that we have had on our hospitals and on the broader health care system,” Henry said. “At the same time, there are still many, many areas that have significant transmission and we are still seeing widespread transmission of this virus across the province, which is why the protections we have this place right now remain a necessary part of our strategy for now.”
Henry urged people who have not yet had a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine to do so, since its protection translates to 20 times less likely to result in serious illness with immune system protection.
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.