BC COVID cases in critical care rise while number in hospital remains flat

The number of critical care COVID-19 cases in BC hospitals rose more than 40 percent this week, while in-hospital cases remained stable.

According to the BC Center for Disease Control (BCCDC), there were 328 cases in the hospital as of November 24, unchanged from last week. But the number of critical care cases rose to 37 from 26, the highest since early August.

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BC’s hospitalization model counts all cases in the hospital, regardless of the reason for admission.

BC releases a variety of other COVID-19 data on Thursdays, though it comes with a number of caveats that make it difficult to use in understanding the true spread of the virus.

For the week ended November 19, the province reported just 498 new cases, although that number is based on extremely limited testing. Only 6,637 lab tests were conducted this week. BC stopped testing all but the most vulnerable groups last December.

The province-wide test positivity rate remained unchanged at 9.8 percent since last Thursday, but the situation varied widely across regions. Both Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health saw an increase in positivity to 8.8 percent, while positivity in the Interior Health region fell significantly from 17.7 percent to 10.3 percent. Island Health had the highest test positivity rate at 14.1 percent.

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For the week ended November 19, 144 hospitalizations were reported, although that number is preliminary and is usually revised upwards by more than 20 percent in the following week.

Also, determining how many people actually die from COVID remains a challenge with the available data.

The BCCDC reported 21 deaths for the week ended November 19, although that number is also preliminary and is expected to rise.

However, since the province’s mortality metric counts everyone who died within 30 days of their first positive test, deaths are also significantly overestimated.

About four out of every 10 deaths reported in this way since April have been verified as actually caused by COVID, a process that takes about eight weeks.

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Of the 1,618 deaths reported this way since April 1, 654 were later determined to be caused by COVID, while 835 were from other causes and 129 were still under investigation.

The BCCDC’s latest situation report shows that 89 percent of these COVID deaths occurred in people aged 70 and older.

The same report confirmed at least 65 COVID-19 deaths between August 28 and September 24, averaging about 2.4 per day.

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