By PAMELA FAYERMAN
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been tracking COVID-19 cases among healthcare professionals and other healthcare workers (HCW) in the B.C. healthcare system. This is information that requires a specific request to the BC Centre for Disease Control.
The data usually takes at least a week or two to obtain. Soon after I receive it, the BCCDC posts it on its website, presumably to show transparency for all. Few other journalists have taken an interest in the information, for whatever reasons.
Each time I have reported the figures, I’ve been shocked at the increases. But latest data (up to Feb. 19) shows that while nearly 6,000 healthcare workers have been infected by COVID-19 since the pandemic began a year ago, the cases are starting to recede a little. Healthcare workers now represent 7.9% of all cases in B.C. up to Feb. 19 when there were a total of 75,546 cases. That compares to 8.1% when I last reported this just over a month ago.
With about 80,000 lab-confirmed, cumulative cases of COVID in B.C., one can project that as of March 1, more than 6,300 healthcare workers will have been infected if the proportion is the same, at about 8% of all cases.
Still, the latest figures represent what can be viewed as an improving situation, likely attributable to vaccinations in HCW that began at the end of 2020. Indeed, as I write this, hospital-based and community physicians and other frontline healthcare workers are finally being immunized with first or second shots. Hallelujah to that!
The latest figures show that care aides, who most often work in long-term care, have been most affected – 1,402 of them have been infected – accounting for 23.6% of cases among HCW. There are about 30,000 care aides working in B.C. which means about 5% have been infected.
It should be pointed out that not all HCW are infected on the job; they could have been infected anywhere in their communities.
Those who work in the nursing category – registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nursing practitioners, and nursing assistants – are virtually even with care aides; about 1,400 working in nursing have been infected. There are about 53,000 nurses in B.C.
Here’s the list of all categories below. You will see at the bottom two large figures for categories called “other” and “unknown.” The “other” category represents HCW whose roles were identified by four or fewer COVID cases. The unknown category, which accounts for 11.1% of all cases, are cases of HCW who would not disclose or specify their roles when they got tested.
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