Serious COVID-19 infections dip slightly in B.C.

Hospitalizations, the ICU patient count and deaths are all slightly below that of a week ago

Countless COVID-19 patients have been treated at Vancouver General Hospital during the pandemic | Photo: Glen Korstrom

The number of serious COVID-19 infections and deaths in B.C. has declined slightly from a week ago, according to new BC Centre for Disease Control data. 

Of the 406 COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals, 30 are in intensive care units (ICUs). That compares with 426 of those patients in hospitals, including 34 in ICUs one week ago. 

Another 21 people are listed as having died while infected with COVID-19 in B.C. in the week up to July 16, a decline of one person from the total of 22 such deaths listed in the week that ended July 9. 

The death total 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.

Government data holds that 3,855 people have now died while infected with COVID-19 in B.C. That is up by 32 from one week ago despite only 21 new deaths being recorded.

The B.C. government's process is supposed to be to include all deaths that involved people infected with COVID-19 in the weekly death tally and the overall death toll and then at a future date to remove from the overall death toll the ones in which the province's Vital Statistics Agency determines that the death was not due to COVID-19 

Instead of this, however, every week for months, the number of new deaths has been lower than the number of deaths added to the overall COVID-19 death toll. 

BIV asked the Ministry of Health about the discrepancy but did not get an explanation. All the ministry would say is that the weekly death tally "may be incomplete." If that were the case, it would be expected that updated figures with complete data would be later released, but neither the BC CDC nor the B.C. government has done that.

The BCCDC detected 1,044 new COVID-19 infections in the week that ended July 16. That is up by 71 from the 973 new cases reported one week earlier, and it raises the number of known COVID-19 infections in B.C. to 377,372 since the first case was detected in late January 2020.

Data for new infections, however, has long been widely dismissed, and even Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie 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.

The 11,194 COVID-19 tests conducted in B.C. in the week ended July 16 was down by 1,108 from one week earlier. Given that there were 1,044 known new cases, the positive-test rate for the week was 9.32 per cent, up from 7.9 per cent one week earlier. The 9.32-per-cent positive-test rate is by far the highest that it has been since the province started releasing weekly data updates in early April. 

Indeed, the last time the government released data for the number of new tests and the number of new cases that worked out to be higher than a 9.32 positive-test rate was on February 23. •