Weekly B.C. COVID-19 deaths stay below 20

Another 19 COVID-19 deaths raise B.C.'s pandemic death toll to 4,321

Paramedics work with their equipment at Vancouver General Hospital | Rob Kruyt

B.C.'s weekly count of COVID-19 deaths was less than 20 for the second consecutive week – the first time that this has happened since the government began providing weekly COVID-19 data updates in April. 

The province's data is widely seen as inaccurate. One reason for that is that the weekly count for new COVID-19 deaths is consistently below the number by which the province has raised its pandemic death toll count. 

This week, for example, the B.C. government said that there were 19 new deaths, despite the pandemic death toll for the province rising by 38, to 4,321. 

Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry in April said her new procedure for counting COVID-19 deaths would be to include all such deaths in counts for new deaths and in the overall death toll count.

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 province's overall death toll. That process would mean that the death toll would be rising on a weekly basis by less than the number of new weekly deaths – the opposite of what is happening.

B.C.'s Ministry of Health has not been able to explain why this keeps happening, and has said that data "may be incomplete."

Data for new COVID-19 deaths in B.C. 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.

When the government posted today's weekly COVID-19 data on its dashboard, it said that there were 29 people in hospital, and 369 in intensive care units (ICUs). Clearly those numbers should be reversed to read that 369 people are in hospital, including 29 in ICUs. That would be two more people in hospital than last week, and one fewer person in ICU.

Other data released today included that there were 697 newly detected COVID-19 infections in the week up to Oct. 1, up by 62 from one week earlier. Despite that number, the government raised its count for all infections so far during the pandemic by 699, to 385,599. It is possible that two infections detected in a previous week were somehow not added to that week's total number of new cases.

Given that the government says that there were 11,511 official COVID-19 tests, that works out to a 6.06-per-cent positive-test rate – the highest that rate has been since Aug. 4.

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.

The province no longer reports how many seniors' care homes have active outbreaks. •