BY PAMELA FAYERMAN
COVID-19 infections continue to rise amongst B.C. healthcare workers as data just released shows the cumulative number of infections rose 34% in the past month, to 4,850.
The count provided by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control only goes up to January 15 when there were a total of about 60,000 COVID cases in the province. As of today, there are over 68,000 cases so it is likely there have now been somewhere around 5,400 infections among healthcare workers since the pandemic began. In mid-December, there were 3,624 cumulative cases among healthcare workers.
The good news, if you can call it that, is that COVID-19 infections among healthcare workers continue to account for just over eight percent of all cases in B.C. That proportion has not risen for a few months. As well, first vaccinations have been completed among all staff and residents of long-term care facilities so infections in LTC sector staff should start to fall.
Care aides who most commonly work in LTC facilities and nurses in various categories – RN, nurse practitioner and licensed practical – continue to head the list. As you will see from the table below, care aides account for about 25% of all infections in the healthcare sector while nurses are a close second, accounting for another 24%.
Cases among dental professionals (156) slightly outnumber those in physicians (151). The only professionals who’ve been vaccinated so far in B.C. are those who work in intensive care units, emergency departments and COVID units. That means healthcare workers like nurses, dentists and physicians not providing direct care to COVID-19 patients have not yet been inoculated.
The government and Dr. Bonnie Henry continually emphasize that not all COVID infections are contracted on the job. But it is clear that wherever healthcare workers acquire COVID-19, they are vulnerable and carry a heavy burden when it comes to the virus. A category called unknown/unspecified has 577 cases. That means individuals answered yes when they were asked during testing if they worked in healthcare but they declined to provide more information about their occupation.
In an ideal world, every healthcare worker would be getting vaccinated now. But the supply for most of February has dried up because of modifications to vaccine production facilities in Belgium.