The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in BC fell by 67 to 473 over the past week — the fewest since April 14, according to government data for today.

Of those, 42 people are sick enough to be in intensive care units (ICUs), down by seven over the past week and the lowest level since March 5.

Another 42 people are said to have died from COVID-19 in the week ended May 21, although the province’s pandemic death toll rose by 71 to 3,469 over the period.

BC’s number of new COVID-19 deaths in seven days has consistently been lower than the province’s pandemic death toll since the province switched to reporting weekly COVID-19 data in early April.

This is the opposite of what the provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry said in early April.

As the province transitioned to providing weekly COVID-19 data updates, how these deaths were calculated changed. The new system will count all deaths if the person has tested positive for the virus in the past 30 days and then died – a calculation that would include car accidents.

As a result, Henry said the new system would initially overcount deaths and that the death toll would be changed weeks or months later if the province’s Vital Statistics Agency confirmed some deaths were not related to COVID-19.

When Glacier Media asked the BC Department of Health about this, an official said it was because the total number of deaths was “preliminary.”

Provinces have different methods of calculating COVID-19 deaths, but across Canada, the death toll surpassed the 40,000 mark earlier this month and stood at 40,799 yesterday (May 25). That total would not have included the deaths in BC that were reported today for the week ended May 21. BC’s 42 COVID-19 deaths in a week is the lowest number in four weeks earlier, the week ended April 23, when there were also 42 deaths.

Data for new infections has long been largely discarded, with even Henry calling it “not accurate” earlier this year. That’s because in December she began telling people who were vaccinated and had mild symptoms not to get tested and just self-isolate. She said at the time that this was to increase testing capacity for those with more severe symptoms and those who are more susceptible.

Nonetheless, BC reported 1,358 known cases today for the week ended May 21. That week, officials conducted 22,210 tests, for a positive test rate of 6.11 percent. That’s the lowest positive test rate since April 14.

BC has long stopped reporting what it considers active infections, or those in which the infected person has not left 10 days after symptoms first appeared. However, it provides data for all known infections since the first case was discovered in late January 2020. That total is now 370,559.

The national tally of COVID-19 infections is 3,855,100, putting BC’s caseload per capita below the national average. Different provinces have given different advice on when people should be tested, so it’s not clear if the data are comparable. •

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