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B.C. COVID-19 hospitalizations down; deaths up

There have not been fewer COVID-19 patients in B.C. ICUs since last July
A man with COVID-19 communicates with a health-care worker while in hospital | Photo: Getty Images / Morsa Images

New data show the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in B.C. fell for the fifth consecutive week, to 276 – the fewest since April 1. 

Of those, 19 people are ill enough to need treatment in intensive care units (ICUs), which is also the fifth consecutive weekly decline. The last time there were this few COVID-19 patients in B.C. ICUs was on Aug. 3, more than 10 months ago, when there were also 19 such patients. The last time that this number was lower was on July 30, when there were 16 people sick enough to be in those wards. Data for hospitalizations is up until June 15.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 deaths continue to accumulate, with another 50 in the week that ended June 11. This weekly total is up by seven, compared with the previous week. The total also includes anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 within 30 days and then died. That calculation may include people who tested positive and then died in car accidents.

The B.C. government's process is to include those deaths initially, and then have its Vital Statistics Agency determine which deaths were not COVID-19-related, and remove them from the total.

As has been the case in each weekly update since the government shifted to only providing data once per week, the presumed COVID-19 death toll has risen by more than the number of new COVID-19 deaths. That is the opposite of what Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said would happen when she unveiled the new system in early April. 

B.C.'s COVID-19 death toll rose by 68 in the week that ended June 11, despite 50 new deaths reported. When Glacier Media asked the B.C. Ministry of Health about the ongoing disparities in the weekly COVID-19 death totals and the overall death toll, an official said that the reason was that death totals were "tentative."

The province now considers 3,682 people to have died from COVID-19 in B.C. since the first death was announced on March 9, 2020 – a man in his 80s who lived at North Vancouver's Lynn Valley Care Centre.

The BC CDC detected 726 new COVID-19 infections in the week that ended June 11. That is the lowest weekly total since the province shifted to weekly updates, on April 7. The 18,397 COVID-19 tests conducted in the week ended June 11 was also the fewest tests conducted in a week since the shift to weekly data reporting. Some good news is that the 3.95-per-cent positive-test rate in the week that ended June 11 is also the lowest since the start of weekly data reporting.

Data for new infections, however, has long been widely dismissed, and even Henry earlier this year called the information "not accurate." This is because in December she started telling people who were vaccinated and had mild symptoms to not get tested and to simply self-isolate. She said at the time that this was to increase testing capacity for those with more serious symptoms and those who are more vulnerable.

Testing is now only encouraged in cases where knowing the test result could change treatment recommendations.