Another 59 people died in BC last week after testing positive for COVID-19, while the number of patients in intensive care with the disease appears to have increased, according to the province’s latest reports on the pandemic.
As of Thursday, 596 people are hospitalized with the new coronavirus, including 54 in intensive care, according to the BC COVID-19 board.
That would represent an eight percent increase in overall hospitalizations from last Thursday’s figures, when the province reported 550 people in hospital. The number of ICU patients rose 38 percent from 39 a week ago.
But all figures released by the province are preliminary and making week-to-week comparisons has become difficult.
Under BC’s current system for reporting COVID-19 data, the numbers that are released for any given week will be retroactively adjusted and will often change significantly by the time the next reports are released.
For example, a week ago, the weekly report from the BC Center for Disease Control said that between April 24 and 30, 50 people had died within 30 days of testing positive for COVID-19.
The last report published on Thursday it now says 68 people died in that time period, a 36 percent increase over what was previously reported.
The numbers released Thursday are part of a relatively recent focus BC health officials introduced earlier this year, both in switching to weekly reporting and in how certain metrics are calculated.
New cases appear to be down
The BCCDC report shows that 1,987 new cases of COVID-19 were reported between May 1 and May 7, based solely on reported laboratory results, for a total of 367,559 cases to date.
The report shows the number of new cases is down about 13 percent from the 2,283 reported the previous week. However, because testing is now quite limited, the case count underestimates the true number of people with COVID-19 in BC.
A total of 331 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 between May 1 and May 7, according to the BCCDC.
The current estimate of deaths during that time is 59, a figure that is reported very differently than in the past.
Those deaths include all people who died within 30 days of testing positive for COVID-19, whether or not the virus was confirmed to be the underlying cause of death. Previously, each death was investigated to determine if COVID-19 was a cause.
Test positivity rates remain high, reaching 10.6% province-wide on May 7. Positivity rates range from 19.9% in the Island Health region to 6.5% in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, according to the panel.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, a provincial health officer, has said that a test positivity rate of more than five percent is an indicator of a more worrying level of transmission.
Wastewater testing at five different treatment plants representing 50 percent of BC’s population shows a downward trend at four of five sites as of May 7, and no clear trend at the fifth, according to latest BCCDC status report.
BC removed mandatory masking requirements in most indoor public spaces On March 10and proof of vaccination requirements on april 8
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at the time that BC has high enough vaccination rates that such requirements are no longer necessary to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.