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B.C. COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations, testing decline

Province's COVID-19 death total falls to 26 in the week ended June 18
VGH close up of windows - rk
The Vancouver General Hospital's Jim Pattison Pavilion has been in use since 1996

Almost all metrics tracking the COVID-19 pandemic fell in B.C. in the past week, according to new provincial government data. 

The 273 people in B.C. hospitals with COVID-19 is the fewest since March 26, when there were 260 such people and the province provided daily updates. Of those in hospital as of today, 28 are in intensive care units (ICUs). That is up by nine and is the only major metric where there was an increase. 

COVID-19 deaths continue to accumulate, but the 26 presumed COVID-19 deaths in the past week is almost half of the 50 such deaths reported one week ago. That weekly death total is up until June 18. It 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 40 in the week that ended June 18, despite 26 new deaths being 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 3,722 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 British Columbia Centre for Disease Control detected 642 new COVID-19 infections in the week that ended June 18. That is the lowest weekly total since the province shifted to weekly updates, on April 7. It raises the number of known COVID-19 infections in B.C. to 373,974 since the first case was detected in late January 2020.

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.

The 12,215 COVID-19 tests conducted in B.C. in the week ended June 18 was also the fewest tests conducted in a week since the shift to weekly data reporting. The drop in weekly testing was particularly stark in the past week, with more than one-third fewer tests conducted, compared with last week's 18,397 tests, which was at the time the fewest tests conducted since weekly data updates were introduced. 

The province's positive-test rate rose to 5.26 per cent in the week ended June 18, up from 3.95 per cent in the week that ended June 11, which was the lowest since the start of weekly data reporting.