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Known new B.C. COVID-19 infections lowest in months

Province counts another 23 people as having died while infected with COVID-19
An ambulance waits outside Burnaby Hospital

The 486 known COVID-19 infections in B.C. in the week ended Oct. 29 was the lowest total since the province started providing weekly data updates in April. While this sounds good, the province also recorded the fewest COVID-19 tests in a week since at least April.

Provincial COVID-19 data is widely seen as inaccurate in part because of regular math errors, but also because of the way the province conducts its counts for new infections, hospitalizations and deaths. 

Back in April, the province regularly recorded between 200 and 300 new COVID-19 cases each day and conducted around 29,000 tests per week. 

The province recorded 5,989 COVID-19 tests in the past week. That makes the positive-test rate 8.11 per cent, which is in line with where that rate has been in recent weeks. Last week, the positive test rate was 8.19 per cent, thanks to 534 new known infections and 6,517 tests. 

The average daily count for new COVID-19 cases is now approximately 69.2, and the last time the average daily number of COVID-19 infections in the province was that low was in the summer of 2021. Again, however, it is likely that this week's count is low because official testing has fallen dramatically. 

The province increased its count for total COVID-19 infections during the pandemic by 485, to 387,451 despite 486 new official COVID-19 cases discovered.

Data for new infections is largely seen as inaccurate because most people who contract COVID-19 do not contact B.C. health authorities. Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry late last year told vaccinated people who have mild COVID-19 symptoms to simply self-isolate and not get tested. Her intent was to free up staff time at testing centres, which then endured hours-long line-ups.

Of those now infected, 286 are in B.C. hospitals, with 27 of those in intensive care units (ICUs), according to data released today. 

B.C.'s count for COVID-19 hospital patients includes those who are in hospital for non-COVID-19 reasons, and who just happened to test positive for COVID-19. Henry said earlier this year that about half of the hospital patients counted as having COVID-19 are these "incidental" cases. She has said that incidental cases of COVID-19 are far less prominent among those who are in ICUs.

Officially, 23 more people died from COVID-19 in the week ended Oct. 29. 

The province's methodology for calculating COVID-19 deaths is also seen as unreliable. It includes 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. The province also starts the countdown for that 30-day window when a person first tests positive for COVID-19, and it does not reset that clock for subsequent detected infections. 

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 23 new deaths In the week up to Oct. 29, it raised its overall COVID-19 death toll by 40, to 4,525.

This discrepancy has been happening every week since the province in April changed its system of counting COVID-19 deaths. 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." 

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