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B.C. changes visiting rules at seniors' care homes as COVID-19 wanes

Emergency ambulance - chung chow
An ambulance arrives at a Vancouver hospital's emergency ward

B.C. today loosened restrictions on visitors to the province's seniors' care homes, as COVID-19 data metrics continued to show that the disease is on the wane.

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said last week that care homes by today should be able to have readjusted staffing to enable residents to have more visitors. 

"Some facilities will be ready tomorrow," she said March 10. "Others, it may take a little bit longer to ramp up their ability to cope with larger numbers of visitors."

Residents at care homes had previously only been able to have one social, or designated visitor, as well as in some cases a separate essential visitor, who would help with tasks such as feeding. Seniors' retirement communities, where residents have their own apartment units, always allowed residents to have more visitors.

Prompting this change is that the number of active outbreaks at health-care facilities and seniors' homes has been on a rapid decline. One month ago, on Feb. 18, B.C. had 33 such outbreaks. Today, there are seven, down by one from yesterday because the outbreak at Sidney Care Home, on Vancouver Island, has been declared over. No new outbreaks were discovered.

The number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals has also been falling fast, and is now 290 – down by eight from yesterday. Today's was the 28th consecutive data update with a lower number of those patients in hospitals. One month ago, B.C. had 733 known COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

Of those now in hospitals, 46 are in intensive care units (ICUs) – down three from yesterday. There has not been fewer COVID-19 patients in B.C. ICUs since last August.

Another six people are known to have died while infected with the disease, raising B.C.'s pandemic death toll to 2,966.

Health officials detected 199 new infections in the past 24 hours. Henry, however, has told vaccinated people with mild symptoms to not get tested so as to free up tests for those who are more vulnerable. As a result she has called the daily case counts "not accurate." 

The B.C. government on Feb. 10 stopped providing data for active infections, and the number of those considered to have recovered from COVID-19 for that very reason. 

It does, however, still provide data for new known infections, and the cumulative total for infections, which is now 353,578.

The vast majority of British Columbians are already vaccinated. While 415 people received their first dose of vaccine in the province in the past day, another 1,803 received second doses of vaccine, and 2,594 obtained their booster doses. 

In total, 4,524,510 eligible B.C. residents have had at least one dose of vaccine, while 4,332,040 are considered fully vaccinated with two doses, and 2,636,246 have had three doses.

Recent Statistics Canada 2021 census data counted 5,000,879 residents in B.C.

Glacier Media's calculation therefore is that nearly 90.5 per cent of B.C.'s total population has had at least one dose of vaccine, and more than 86.6 per cent of the province's total population has had two doses. More than 52.7 per cent have had their booster doses. •