COVID-19 at UBC: Hospitalizations rise as vaccine mandates lift throughout province

The number of recorded COVID-19 infections is continuing to fall in the UBC community health service area, according to new BCCDC data.

The positivity rate for publicly-administered PCR tests between March 25 and March 31 is 14 per cent, which dropped from 22 per cent last week. This translates to 21 tests being administered within that time frame.

In the last week of March, UBC saw three new COVID-19 cases and a case rate of two per 100,000 people. This is slightly lower than the case rate from last week as well as in surrounding neighborhoods like West Point Grey and Kitsilano, which recorded between 3–4 cases per 100,000 people.

These numbers do not account for results from rapid antigen tests, which are available to students through local pharmacies.

As the province plans to lift various vaccine mandates by this Friday, public health authorities have reported an uptick in hospitalizations, which went up from 321 on Monday to 334 the next day, as well as two new outbreaks at healthcare facilities. Tests at five wastewater treatment facilities throughout the province also indicate that concentrations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are on the rise.

Vaccine coverage rose to 96 per cent for residents aged 5 and above, while 86 per cent of those aged 70 and above have received a third dose, which is similar to surrounding regions. Provincial health officials said that a second booster dose will start being offered to seniors living in care homes, those over 70 and anyone who is immunocompromised in the coming month.

Vaccine requirements for post-secondary residences are also being lifted.

Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry says that she expects to see a continued increase in cases throughout the coming months followed by a “gradual [decrease] again.”

The province will also bring changes to the way it reports COVID-19 data, announcing that daily reports will be replaced with weekly reports, supplemented with an automated system that links laboratory data related to PCR test results.

This comes as the Ministry of Health is limiting the number of PCR tests it administers to around 5,000 a day, making daily case counts a less relevant metric in gauging the severity of the pandemic.

Each Thursday morning, the BCCDC dashboard will also display death counts of anyone who was positive for COVID-19 at their time of death — regardless of whether the virus was the direct cause of death.