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Here’s how B.C. is preparing for a possible surge in COVID-19, flu cases this fall

B.C. health officials are making preparations for a possible fall surge in COVID-19 and influenza cases that could put added pressure on an already-burdened health-care system.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix spoke live Wednesday afternoon about fall respiratory viruses, particularly COVID-19 and influenza.

Officials said while it may seem like B.C. is emerging from the pandemic, there is uncertainty over a possible surge in cases led by the highly contagious Omicron variant in the months ahead. At the same time, there may more influenza cases than the province has seen in the past two years.

Health officials explained influenza cases stayed quite low in 2020 and 2021 because of measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. But with restrictions lifted and people spending more time indoors, the flu and other respiratory illnesses are likely to return this year, they said.

RISE IN HOSPITALIZATIONS?

The Health Ministry explained hospital capacity in the province is around 9,400. That estimate is based not on physical beds, but also on realistic staffing levels.

Officials said with a rise in Omicron cases, hospitalizations could go up to about 700 additional patients. Currently there are about 350 people in hospital with COVID-19, though the province includes those who are hospitalized for other reasons and test positive for COVID incidentally in that total.

The “big unknown,” officials said, is the impact influenza will have. Projections based on a possible “high” flu season, could see a peak of 1,200 additional patients requiring hospitalizations over the coming months.

To prepare for this extra demand, officials said they’re looking at reducing current hospitalizations by focusing on patients currently waiting for care outside the hospital, like in a community clinic or through placement in a long-term care home. Hundreds of beds could be freed up through that process, officials said.

As well, a task force is being established to improve hospital efficiency and, as a last resort, surgeries may need to be postponed again.

VACCINE CAMPAIGNS

Officials reiterated Wednesday the importance of getting a fall booster with the Omicron-targeting bivalent-vaccine. They said the boosters decrease the risk of having long COVID symptoms and reinfection of the disease.

Influenza vaccines will also soon be available in the province. They’re expected to be offered to the most vulnerable community members as early as next week and may be available to all British Columbians aged six months and older after the Thanksgiving long weekend.


This is a developing story. Check back for updates. (source: CTV News)

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Alan Shields
Alan Shields
1 month ago

Well, you know that those 350 hospitalized people with covid will be killed by their “treatments”.

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