The number of COVID-19 cases in critical care in B.C. hospitals jumped by more than 40 per cent this week, while cases in hospital held steady.
As of Nov. 24, there were 328 cases in hospital, unchanged from last week, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC). The number of cases in critical care, however, shot up to 37 from 26, the highest they have been since early August.
B.C.’s hospitalization model counts all cases in hospital, regardless of their reason for admission.
B.C. releases a variety of other COVID-19 data on Thursdays, though it comes with a number of caveats that make its utility in understanding the virus’ true spread difficult.
For the week ending Nov. 19, the province reported a mere 498 new cases, though that number is based on extremely limited testing. Just 6,637 lab tests were conducted that week. B.C. stopped testing all but the most at-risk groups last December.
The province-wide test-positivity rate held flat from last Thursday at 9.8 per cent, however the situation has varied significantly by region. Both Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health saw positivity climb upward to 8.8 per cent, while positivity in the Interior Health region fell markedly from 17.7 per cent to 10.3 per cent. Island Health had the highest test-positivity rate at 14.1 per cent.
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For the week ending Nov. 19 there were 144 hospital admissions reported, though this figure is preliminary and is typically revised upward by more than 20 per cent the following week.
Determining how many people are actually dying of COVID also remains a challenge with the available data.
The BCCDC reported 21 deaths for the week ending Nov. 19, though this figure, too, is preliminary and expected to rise.
But because the province’s mortality metric counts anyone who died within 30 days of their first positive test, it also significantly overestimates fatalities.
About four in 10 deaths reported this way since April were determined to have actually been caused by COVID upon further review, a process that takes about eight weeks.
Of the 1,618 deaths reported this way since April 1, 654 were later found to have been caused by COVID, while 835 had other causes and 129 remained under investigation.
The BCCDC’s latest situation report shows that 89 per cent of those COVID deaths were among people aged 70 and older.
That same report confirmed at least 65 COVID-19 deaths between Aug. 28 and Sept. 24, an average of about 2.4 per day.