2024-01-12 BC

The province says they are having a technical issue so the Situation Report won’t be updated this week. Someone suggested that maybe the car that takes the data over didn’t have winter tires. :-/ (That’s a joke.)


This article reports that there are 10,435 people in BC hospitals right now — more patients in them than they have ever had before. Is this because of respiratory illnesses? I’m not sure, but I suspect not. Last week there were 219 reported COVID-19 cases in hospital, which means 98% of the cases are not COVID-19 patients. Could they be undercounting the number of COVID-19 cases? Sure, but even if they were undercounting by 5x, still 90% of the cases would be non-COVID. (Also, if they are undercounting, I would expect they’d be undercounting those in the hospital with COVID-19 as opposed to those there for COVID-19.)

Meanwhile, the other respiratory illnesses are high right now compared to other times of the year, but they are basically normal for this time of the year (and quite a bit lower than last year’s peak), see chart below.

How overwhelmed is the province? I found this article from September 2023 says that there are 9,980 hospital beds in the province, and that they added 5,221 nurses from January 2023 to September 2023.

Meanwhile, this article from about three years ago said that said BC had 2,353 in surge capacity. 271 beds were at the Vancouver Convention Centre temporary field hospital (which they never used), but I suspect some of the surge beds were in hallways and storage rooms, etc. I expect that some of the surge beds are still available.

Taken together, this means that they are running at 104.6% capacity for regular beds but only 85% capacity if you include surge beds. (If they still have surge capability.)

I suspect our hospitals are designed to run at full capacity. If you don’t have your hospitals running at full capacity, that means that some of your bed space is wasted.

Furthermore, I don’t know how they count number of patients in hospital. I suspect that if I go into hospital for surgery in the morning, and get discharged in the early afternoon, I presume that I count as one person in hospital for the day. But presumably someone else could come in for surgery in the early afternoon and get discharged in the late afternoon, so that would count as two people, even though the two of us used the same bed.

This article from September 2023 says that all the elective/scheduled surgeries which were postponed during the pandemic have been cleared, but I suspect that means that there were surgeries delayed between the end of the COVID-19 State of Emergency (which this article says happened in June 2021). If BC is still behind in elective surgeries, that would put added pressure on hospitals.

Bottom line: I don’t know what the breakdown of hospital admits across the province is these days, but I suspect that the hospitals are not as overwhelmed as first look at the number suggests.

This article on the same Henry/Dix press conference quoted Dix as saying that 18,000 health care workers missed about one day in the past week because of illness.

Non-COVID Respiratory Illness

Maybe the respiratory illness levels have peaked? From the BC CDC Viral Pathogen Characterization dashboard:


We got one day of data this week, oh joy. From Jeff’s wastewater spreadsheet:

Categorized as BC