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New B.C. COVID-19 deaths lowest in seven weeks

Those in hospital with the disease rise by 18 to 324
Burnaby Hospital has treated countless COVID-19 patients during the pandemic | Photo: Jennifer Gauthier, Burnaby Now

The 22 people believed to have died of COVID-19 in B.C. in the week up to Sept. 3 is the lowest such count since the week ended July 16, seven weeks earlier, according to new government data.

Data for new COVID-19 deaths includes anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 within 30 days and then died – a calculation that could include people who tested positive and then died in car accidents.

Despite the province counting 22 new COVID-19 deaths, it raised its figure for the total number of people believed to have died from the disease in B.C. by 38, to 4,183.

Higher additions to the overall COVID-19 death toll in the province than newly counted COVID-19 deaths has happened consistently for months, and it is the opposite of what Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in April said would happen when the province shifted to reporting data on a weekly basis. 

She said in April that she was changing the process for counting deaths, and that the new procedure would be to include all deaths that involved people infected with COVID-19 in weekly updates and the overall death toll. She said that the province's Vital Statistics Agency would then determine that some deaths were not due to COVID-19 and that it would remove those deaths from the overall death toll. That does not appear to be happening. 

Glacier Media has asked the Ministry of Health why the death toll consistently rises more than the number of new deaths but has not received a satisfactory explanation. The ministry's most recent response was that the data "may be incomplete," but there has never been any updates to previously announced weekly death totals. 

B.C. now has 324 people in hospitals with COVID-19, including people who tested positive for the virus while in hospital for something else. Of those, 22 have serious enough bouts of disease to be in intensive care units (ICUs).

The government said today that 617 new infections were detected in the week ended Sept. 3 – down by 34 from the 651 known new infections in the week ended Aug. 27. Given that there were said to be 14,485 official tests, that works out to a 4.26-per-cent positive-test rate.

Data for new infections is widely dismissed. Even Henry, earlier this year, called the data for new cases "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.

One new weapon in the province's arsenal in attacking disease spread is Moderna's vaccine that targets both COVID-19 and its Omicron strain. Those vaccine doses are set to arrive this week and be distributed through pharmacies, and eventually provincial vaccine clinics. •