Rising COVID-19 cases among young people are not leading to higher hospitalization rates.
“We have very low and stable rates of hospitalization for the younger age groups,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday.
However, young people who are infected by one of the variants of concern and require hospitalization are somewhat more likely than others to need treatment in intensive care, Henry said.
Since September 2020, 1,592 British Columbians under age 60 have been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19. Nineteen per cent were moved to intensive care.
But of those 53 hospitalized people under 60 who had been infected by a variant of concern, 30% were moved to critical care.
“So far, the numbers are very small, so it’s not something that is necessarily a worry, but it is something we will be watching and investigating further,” Henry said.
Also Thursday, Henry announced an easing of visiting restrictions in place at long-term care homes across B.C.
Until now, each resident could have only one “designated social visitor”. Now, residents can receive other friends and family with visits of up to two adults plus a child. Visits can also take place in residents’ rooms without staff present and physical touch between residents and visitors is allowed though masks will still be required.
“Really, it’s not about easing restrictions as much as recognizing that in this phase of the pandemic we need to focus on those things that we can do safely,” Henry said.
Vaccines have been very effective in protecting residents of long-term care homes, Henry said. “That gives us some leeway to be able to have some activities that are safer,” Henry said.
“With vaccines bringing an important layer of protection for everyone in our province, it is a safe time to ease visitor restrictions and support safe social connections for people in long-term care,” added Health Minister Adrian Dix.