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B.C. COVID-19 deaths rise

The 32 COVID-19 deaths in week up to Oct. 15 is highest total since Aug. 27
An ambulance waits outside Burnaby Hospital

B.C. had 32 COVID-19 deaths in the week up until Oct. 15, up by seven from the count one week earlier, the B.C. government announced today. 

That is the highest weekly pandemic-related death total since the province recorded 33 deaths in the week up until August 27.

The province's data is widely seen as inaccurate, but it provides some insight on trends.

The province's methodology for calculating COVID-19 deaths is to include everyone who has died after having officially tested positive for COVID-19 within the past month – a process that could include people who die in car accidents. It also starts the countdown for that 30 day window when a person first tests positive for COVID-19, and does not reset the clock for subsequent detected infections. 

Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said in April, when she introduced this new counting methodology, that the province's Vital Statistics Agency would later determine that some deaths were not due to COVID-19 and that it would remove those deaths from the province's overall death toll. That process would mean that the death toll would be rising on a weekly basis by less than the number of new weekly deaths – the opposite of what is happening.

Despite B.C. counting 32 new deaths In the week up to Oct. 15, it raised its overall COVID-19 death toll by 53, to 4,423.

B.C.'s Ministry of Health has not been able to explain why this keeps happening, and has told Glacier Media that data "may be incomplete."

Other new data said there are 389 people with COVID-19 in B.C. hospitals, including 21 in intensive care units (ICUs), as of today. That is up from 365 people with COVID-19 in B.C. hospitals, including 19 in ICUs, one week ago. 

B.C.'s count for COVID-19 hospital patients includes those who are in hospital for different reasons, and who just happened to test positive for COVID-19. Henry has said that about half of the hospital patients counted as having COVID-19 are these "incidental" cases.

B.C.'s official number of new COVID-19 infections detected in the week up until Oct. 15 is 628 – down by 69 from the 697 infections detected in the week up until Oct. 8. Despite this, the government's total count for COVID-19 infections during the pandemic increased by 627 to 386,920.

Data for new infections has long been widely dismissed. Even Henry, earlier this year, called the data for new cases "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 cases that were detected came from only 6,453 official tests in the week ended Oct. 15. That is down by 71 from one week ago, and is the lowest count of official COVID-19 tests since the province started releasing data on a weekly basis in April.

The previous week, up until Oct. 8, saw a much more dramatic drop in testing, as tests dropped by 4,987 to 6,524 in that week, from 11,511 the previous week. Accompanying the large drop in tests was a spike in the positive-test rate. This week 9.73 per cent of the tests came back positive. In each week in September, the positive test rate was slightly more than four per cent. 

Testing was much more widespread September, with weekly testing surpassing 15,000 several times.

The province no longer reports how many seniors' care homes have active outbreaks. •