The number of COVID-19 patients in BC hospitals Thursday hit its lowest level in weeks, and regional data from the BC Center for Disease Control shows the decline was caused by hospitals in the Lower Mainland.
The total number of test-positive patients across the province fell to 540 on Thursday from 596 last week, amid signs that the sixth wave of the pandemic may have receded.
Most of the drop in hospital admissions came from the Fraser Health region, where the hospital count had previously increased for several weeks. Fraser Health went from 268 patients in the hospital on May 12 to 234 on Thursday, down from 34.
Vancouver Coastal Health — whose hospitalizations have varied widely in recent weeks — saw a drop of 28 patients, down from 135 on May 12 to 107 on Thursday.
Interior Health also saw the hospital count drop last week from 96 patients on May 12 to 87 this week.
However, not every regional health authority is seeing a decrease in hospital admissions. Island Health’s total rose from 73 to 77 in the last week and Northern Health’s from 16 to 23.
Each of these numbers reflects the total number of coronavirus-positive patients in each region’s hospitals, whether the patients were hospitalized due to severe COVID-19 illness or tested positive by chance for other reasons during the hospitalization.
When asked why individual health agency totals for a given week don’t add up to the total reported on the BCCDC dashboard, the Department of Health told CTV News that the dashboard “does not include details for a provincial health agency (PHSA) facility.” , which would include inpatients.”
Of the 540 patients treated in hospitals nationwide this week, 528 are listed with regional health authorities, meaning an additional 12 COVID-19 patients were in PHSA facilities as of Thursday.
The number of patients currently hospitalized is the only current figure that the BCCDC publishes in its weekly updates of COVID-19 data.
Other published figures refer to the last full epidemiological week – in this case from May 8th to 14th.
There were 334 new hospital admissions nationwide during that period, although that number is expected to increase “as the data becomes more complete”.
The majority of these admissions were at Fraser Health with 148. Vancouver Coastal Health had 73, Interior Health 61, Island Health 34 and Northern Health 18.
The week of May 8-14 also saw 1,645 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 recorded across BC. This total includes only cases confirmed by PCR testing, which is unavailable to most symptomatic BC residents.
Still, it reflects positive test results among those eligible for testing, a group that includes some of the people most vulnerable to serious complications from the coronavirus.
A weekly map of confirmed cases produced by the BCCDC shows which “local health areas” in the province had the most positive tests overall and which had the highest concentrations of new confirmed cases relative to their populations.
The local health area, which covers most of the city of Surrey, was the only one to record more than 100 positive tests for a total of 154 infections in the week in question.
The city of Vancouver is divided into six local health areas, each of which has had a lower number of confirmed cases than Surrey. Taken together, however, these regions have a total of 181 new infections in Vancouver.
Other urban areas also saw higher numbers of cases, with 94 recorded in the Central Okanagan region – which includes the city of Kelowna – and 88 in the local health area of Greater Victoria.
However, taking population into account, the largest number of confirmed cases per capita was found in the local health area of North Thompson, which recorded more than 20 cases per 100,000 residents per day between May 8 and 14.
Only four other local health areas in the province had 10 or more daily cases per 100,000 people during that time. They were: Haida Gwaii (12 per 100,000), Hope (11 per 100,000), Grand Forks (10 per 100,000) and Oceanside (10 per 100,000).