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COVID-19 hospitalizations rise in B.C. as ICU total stays flat

Province records another 27 COVID-19 deaths
COVID patient - getty images
A nurse comforts a COVID-19 patient in hospital

The number of those hospitalized with COVID-19 in B.C. has risen nearly 50 per cent, to 485 from 324, according to weekly data that the B.C. government released this afternoon.

The total is for April 21, compared with April 14. 

The province's dashboard originally inaccurately identified today's updated hospital data as being up until April 14. 

Of those hospitalized, 38 people were in intensive care units (ICUs) with COVID-19 on April 21 – the same number as two weeks earlier and two more than one week ago.

Health Minister Adrian Dix yesterday forecast this result at a press conference.

"Overall non-critical-care hospitalization has been going up, and critical-care hospitalization has been stabilizing," he said. "In other words, the number of people who are sick enough to be in hospital but not in critical care is a group that we saw an increase and I think you're going to continue to see those two trends."

The shift to a new way to calculate COVID-19 deaths makes new counts not comparable with old ones. The way the government now calculates COVID-19 deaths is to include anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 within 30 days and then died – counts that could include traffic accidents. The intention is to in future months deduct deaths that the province's Vital Statistics Agency later identifies as being not from COVID-19. 

The previous system, when daily data reports were released, was to manually go through each death to confirm that it was because of COVID-19.

The government's calculation for deaths also includes some unexplained math. 

The government said that another 27 people had died from COVID-19 as of April 16. That compares with 23 known deaths in week that ended April 9, when the total COVID-19 death toll was pinned at 3,036. Today's data holds that the overall COVID-19 death toll has gone up by 41, to 3,077, thanks to 27 new such deaths recorded. 

A Ministry of Health spokesperson told Glacier Media that the death information is a "tentative number as more data becomes available."

The most recent figure for weekly infections is 2,036, which is up to what the dashboard says is April 16. Given that there were 28,672 tests, the current weekly positive-test rate is 7.6 per cent. That compares with the 6.1 per cent positive-test rate in the last weekly report.

Screenshots show that the dashboard one week ago said that there had been 1,706 new infections in the week up until April 9. That total was then updated to show that there had been 1,770 infections in the week up until April 9. 

Data for new infections had already been widely dismissed, and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry called it "not accurate." This was after she in December 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. 

In order to be prescribed Paxlovid, which can reduce symptoms and deter some hospitalizations, people need to be tested by health officials. Their doctor can then prescribe the drug within five days of the patients having first felt symptoms.

In total, the provincial dashboard says that health officials know of 361,034 infections since the first one was detected in January 2020. •