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COVID-19 infection, illness still critical for Northern B.C. hospitals

More aircraft added to transfer intensive care patients south
Intensive care unit at a U.S. hospital. (AP Photo/Kyle Green)

B.C.’s health ministry transferred another 14 critically ill patients from Northern B.C. hospitals to the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island over the Thanksgiving weekend, as spread of COVID-19 continues to overtax the health care system in areas where vaccination rates are lower.

A total of 55 critical care patients have been transferred from the Northern Health region since the fourth wave of coronavirus forced the restriction of surgeries and transfers to hospitals in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Tuesday. Of those patients, 43 had active COVID-19 infections and all but one were not fully vaccinated, he said.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said public health leaders are “very concerned” about the situation in the North. Dix said two additional aircraft have been contracted to transfer patients to southern hospitals, after 23 additional critical care beds have been added, bringing the total for the Northern Health region to 63.

On Friday, public health teams reported 196 new cases in Northern Health, almost a third of the provincial total, despite the significantly lower population.

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“We know the numbers we have seen over this past weekend have been stable, but they are still very high, and that means again that we have had increasing impact on our hospitals and critical care,” Henry said at a briefing Oct. 12.

“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. COVID-19 is spreading at a higher than average rate. People are becoming severely ill, even young people.”

Dix urged everyone in the region who has not yet been vaccinated to take advantage of one of the walk-in clinics being offered in communities around B.C.

B.C. health authorities continue to operate scheduled appointment and walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinics around the province. A full list of clinic locations and hours by region can be found here. Registration and booking appointments in B.C. can be done here, or by calling 1-833-838-2323 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. seven days a week.


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