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B.C. reports highest COVID-19 death count in months

The 44 COVID-19 deaths in a week is the highest total since June 16.
B.C.'s official number of new COVID-19 infections detected in the week up until Oct. 22 is 534.

B.C. had 44 COVID-19 deaths in the week ending Oct. 22, which is the highest weekly death count reported since mid-June, the B.C. government announced Thursday (Oct. 27). 

The death count is up by 12 from the week ending Oct. 15 and is the highest number reported since Jun.16, when the province reported 50 COVID-19 deaths. 

The province's data is widely seen as inaccurate, but it provides some insight into 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 44 new deaths in the week up to Oct. 22, it raised its overall COVID-19 death toll by 59, to 4,485.

This data discrepancy follows a similar trend from the previous week's update when 44 cases were reported but the death toll increased by 53

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 292 people with COVID-19 in B.C. hospitals in the week ending Oct. 27, including 20 in intensive care units (ICUs). That is down from 389 people with COVID-19 in B.C. hospitals, including 21 in ICUs, one week ago. But total hospitalizations increased from 29,206 to 29,475 week-over-week, which is an increase of 269. 

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. 22 is 534 – down by 94 from the 628 infections detected in the week up until Oct. 15. Despite this, the government's total count for COVID-19 infections during the pandemic increased by 531 to 387,451. 

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 6,517 official tests in the week ending Oct. 22, up by 64 tests from the last reporting period. This week 12.06 per cent of the tests came back positive. 

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. 

With files from Glen Korstrom