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COVID-19 metrics decline in B.C.

COVID-19 deaths, cases, hospitalizations, ICU patient counts all fall
covid19 antigen test
A COVID-19 antigen test shows a positive result

Metrics tracking the COVID-19 pandemic declined slightly in the past week, according to new government data.

The number of COVID-19 deaths in the week up to August 13 fell to 24 from 28, while the number of infected hospital patients in the week up until today fell to 366 from 398 one week ago. Of those in hospital with the disease, 22 are in intensive care units (ICUs), which is down by one from 23 one week ago. 

It is unclear whether the government will alter those numbers later today given that two sets of numbers were released last Thursday. The government has said that its weekly COVID-19 updates are delivered each Thursday at 1 p.m.

Data for new COVID-19 deaths includes anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 within 30 days and then died – a calculation that could include people who tested positive and then died in car accidents.

As has been the case each week since the government shifted to weekly data reporting in April, the provincial total for all deaths from the disease has risen by more than the new weekly total – a phenomenon that casts doubt on the reliability of the information. 

The number of COVID-19 deaths throughout the pandemic in B.C. rose by 42 in the past week, to 4,037 despite only 24 new such deaths reported. 

Glacier Media has asked the Ministry of Health why the death toll consistently rises more than the number of new deaths but has not received a satisfactory explanation. The ministry's most recent response was that the data "may be incomplete," but there has never been any updates to previously announced weekly death totals. 

In April, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that the process for counting deaths was changing and that the new procedure would be to include all deaths that involved people infected with COVID-19 in weekly updates and the overall death toll. She said that the province's Vital Statistics Agency would then determine that some deaths were not due to COVID-19 and that it would remove those deaths from the overall death toll. The death toll's consistent rise in excess of the number of new deaths is the exact opposite of what Henry said would happen. 

The government said today that 877 new infections were detected in the week ended August 13 – down from 900 the previous week.

Its data for new infections has also 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.

Health officials conducted 17,004 COVID-19 tests, which would make the positive-test rate 5.15 per cent, according to government data. That's the lowest that rate has been since June.

The cumulative total of known infections in the province has risen to 381,049. •