B.C. reports slight dip in COVID-19 hospitalizations as test positivity rate ticks upwards

·3 min read
People are pictured at PNE’s Playland in Vancouver on Thursday. As of Thursday, 406 people are in hospital with COVID-19, including 30 in intensive care. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
People are pictured at PNE’s Playland in Vancouver on Thursday. As of Thursday, 406 people are in hospital with COVID-19, including 30 in intensive care. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

B.C. is reporting a slight decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations from last week, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's latest data on the pandemic shared by provincial health authorities on Thursday.

As of Thursday, 406 people are in hospital with the novel coronavirus, 30 of whom are in critical care, according to the province's COVID-19 dashboard.

It represents a 4.7 per cent dip in overall hospitalizations from last Thursday when the province reported 426 people in hospital. The number of ICU patients is down by 11.8 per cent from 34 a week ago.

The latest numbers released by the provincial government encompass the week ending July 16.

The government says its weekly numbers are preliminary. It has been retroactively adjusting them due to delays in the count and the new way in which it measures weekly cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

The numbers released Thursday are part of an approach from B.C. health officials started earlier this year, both in the move to weekly reporting and in how certain metrics are calculated.

Another 21 deaths were recorded from COVID-19 in the province from July 10 to 16, which includes everyone who died within 30 days of testing positive for COVID-19, whether or not the virus has been confirmed as an underlying cause of death.

Test positivity rate ticks up

Test positivity rates are up slightly, hitting an average of 12.8 per cent provincewide on Saturday, compared to 10.9 per cent the previous week.

Other data related to the pandemic is available in a report from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, which tracks cases, hospital admissions and deaths between July 10 and 16.

It shows that 1,044 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in that time, based solely on lab-reported results, for a total of 377,372 cases to date.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

The report also shows the number of new cases up by about 7.2 per cent from 973 in the previous week.

However, because testing is now quite limited, the province says the case count underestimates the actual number of people with COVID-19 in B.C. According to the report, the highly infectious BA.5 Omicron subvariant is the main cause for the current uptick in the rate of positive tests and case increases.

This is the third Omicron-driven wave and the seventh wave overall of COVID-19 in B.C.

A total of 246 people were admitted to hospital with the disease between July 10 and 16, according to the BCCDC.

Wastewater testing at five different treatment plants, representing 50 per cent of B.C.'s population, shows viral loads have slowed or reversed in the past one to two weeks.

The report says it's an indicator that the number of unreported cases of COVID-19 due to limited testing is plateauing.

Vaccine registration opens for young children

Health Minister Adrian Dix is encouraging parents to register their children for vaccination after Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccines for children aged six months to five years.

Acting provincial health officer Dr. Martin Lavoie says the vaccines are safe and have helped the province weather the pandemic. While most children infected with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, he says some can get very sick.

About 208,000 eligible babies and children in B.C. are in that age category, and parents are invited to book an appointment beginning Aug. 2.

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