This month alone, 174 British Columbians have died after contracting COVID-19.
During Friday's press conference, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry disclosed about 40 per cent of these deaths are connected to outbreaks within long-term care homes. During the rapid rise in cases driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant in the past month, outbreaks within B.C. healthcare facilities, including care homes, have skyrocketed.
As of Friday, there are 46 active long-term care home outbreaks in the province, 12 of which are in the Interior.
“About 40 per cent of the people who've died in this month, have been related to outbreaks in long term care,” Dr. Henry said Friday. “Most of the people who are dying outside of those outbreaks are older people with underlying illnesses. A high proportion of them are people who don't have the protection from vaccination.”
A very high percentage of long-term care residents in B.C. have been vaccinated, in addition to their booster dose, and Dr. Henry said they're generally seeing “very mild illness” among residents. But she noted the BC CDC counts anyone who dies within 30 days of testing positive for the virus as a COVID death.
“We've always recognized that COVID could play a role in those people's deaths,” she said.
She added that in the past week, two people in their 40s have died from COVID-19.
“The younger [deaths] tend to be people who are not yet vaccinated and don't have that protection, and many have other underlying causes, as we know,” she said.
But since the beginning of the pandemic, age has been the number one risk factor for getting seriously ill or dying from the virus. The median age of COVID deaths in B.C. is 82, and about 79 per cent of the province's deaths have been among people 70 and older.