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B.C. COVID-19 ICU patient count at two-month high

Most pandemic data metrics have been relatively flat in past month
VGH Jim Pattison Pav - rk
Vancouver General Hospital has treated many COVID-19 patients during the pandemic

While most data metrics to track the COVID-19 pandemic in B.C. have been relatively flat in the past month, there are more patients in hospital intensive care units (ICUs) today than at any time in the past two months. 

Of 410 patients in B.C. hospitals who have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, 38 are sick enough to need extra care in ICUs. That compares with 401 COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals one week ago, with 35 of them in ICUs.

The last time there were this many COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospital ICUs was on June 2, when there were 41 such patients out of 421 in all hospital wards combined.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province then sunk to a low of 273 in the weekly updates on June 23 and June 30, before rising into mid-July. 

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.

Nonetheless, the province's data holds that there were 28 new COVID-19 deaths in the week that ended July 30. In the previous three weeks, the province's data holds that there were 29, 21 and 22 COVID-19 deaths respectively.

Provincial data has been criticized for being unreliable. The province added 32 additional people to its COVID-19 death toll of 3,940 people since the first death was recorded in March 2020. In every update for months, the province has added more COVID-19 deaths to its death toll than it records as being new deaths. 

Glacier Media has asked the Ministry of Health about this but did not get an 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. 

In April, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that the process for counting deaths was changing 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. The death toll's consistent rise in excess of the number of new deaths is the exact opposite of what Henry said would happen. 

Data for new infections has also 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.

The BCCDC detected 983 new COVID-19 infections in the week that ended July 30. That is up by 62 from the 921 new cases reported one week earlier, and it raises the number of known COVID-19 infections in B.C. to 379,274 since the first case was detected in late January 2020.

Testing is now only encouraged in cases where knowing the test result could change treatment recommendations.

The 14,324 COVID-19 tests conducted in B.C. in the week ended July 30 was up by 1,118 from one week earlier. Given that there were 983 known new cases, the positive-test rate for the week was 6.86 per cent, down from 6.97 per cent one week earlier. •