COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health authorities up to March 21, showing recent rise. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health authorities up to March 21, showing recent rise. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate creeps up again, to 682 on Tuesday

More than 300 in hospital as spread of virus variants monitored

B.C. continued its worrying rise in COVID-19 cases Tuesday, recording 682 new cases and an increase in hospitalized patients to 314.

The total for March 23 is increased by the addition of 36 older cases in the Interior Health region that have been added after a data review and included in the latest totals. Those additional cases were actually confirmed in 2020 but not recorded at the provincial level.

“Since we last reported, we have had 229 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 333 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 19 in the Island Health region, 76 in the Interior Health region, 23 in the Northern Health region and two new cases of people who reside outside of Canada,” Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a statement.

The number of people in hospital has crept up over 300 in recent days as infections rose, with 556 cases in the 24 hours up to Saturday, 598 to Sunday, and 631 to Monday. Of the new cases, 144 are of virus variants, mostly the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

There was one additional death related to COVID-19 reported Tuesday, but no new outbreaks in the health care system, where vaccination has protected staff, patients and residents of long-term care. Outbreaks at the Brucejack Mine in northwestern B.C. and at Revera Sunwood Retirement Community in Maple Ridge have been declared over.

RELATED: ‘Slow and steady increase’ in Lower Mainland infections

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