Downward trend continues as COVID-19 hospitalizations fall 7.5 per cent in 1 week

·4 min read
The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 declined for the fourth consecutive week, according to the latest weekly data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 declined for the fourth consecutive week, according to the latest weekly data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 declined for the fourth straight week, while the number of patients in critical care has also dipped in the week since the province last released data on COVID-19.

Data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control shows 306 people in hospital with COVID-19 as of Thursday, a decline of 7.5 per cent from the week before and down 25 per cent from 410 reported on Aug. 4.

Twenty-five patients are in critical care, down four from last Thursday.

The province also reported 33 more deaths between Aug. 21 and 27, bringing the total to 4,145.

The government's weekly numbers, which it says are preliminary, are often changed retroactively due to delays in the count and the new way the province measures weekly cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Current hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in B.C.

Deaths are now calculated based on whether they occurred within 30 days of a positive COVID-19 test and whether or not the coronavirus has been confirmed as an underlying cause of death.

Last week, the province reported 33 deaths between Aug. 14 and 20, the same total reported on Thursday. That number was subsequently revised upwards to 45.

The numbers released Thursday are part of an approach from B.C. health officials that began in April when the province moved to weekly reporting of COVID-19 numbers and changed how certain metrics are calculated.

There were 651 new cases reported from Aug. 20 to 27, a decrease of 11.6 per cent from the previous reporting period, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in B.C. to 381,788.

The province says this likely underestimates actual case numbers as most people are testing themselves, and there are fewer lab-reported tests.

The seven-day moving average for the test positivity rate is 7.6 per cent as of Aug. 27, according to the BCDC dashboard, down from 8.5 per cent last Thursday.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said anything above five per cent is a general indicator of ongoing community transmission.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control says SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in Metro Vancouver wastewater may have stabilized or begun to increase after falling from their most recent peak in late June, early July.

Omicron vaccine coming to B.C. 

Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say most residents should expect to be able to receive a booster vaccine targeting Omicron variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 this month or in October.

They said in a joint statement Thursday the province was set to begin distributing doses of Moderna's newly approved vaccine as soon as supply arrived, with more information coming next week.

Health Canada approved the so-called "bivalent'' vaccine earlier Thursday.

Henry and Dix described the shot as being more effective at protecting people from serious illness caused by Omicron, the most common variant of COVID-19 currently circulating in B.C. It also targets earlier strains of the virus.

Officials will provide further information about timing and eligibility for the shots on Sept. 6, Henry and Dix said.

They said the vaccine would arrive over several weeks, and shots would be available to most British Columbians by the end of October at health-authority clinics and pharmacies.

Back-to-school concerns

With classes across the province set to resume next week, some parents and teachers say they want to make sure minimizing COVID-19 risk is still a priority.

When students returned to in-person classes earlier in the pandemic, schools had mask mandates and safety plans in place. This year, parents are raising concerns about a lack of concrete protective measures.

"I'd like to see masks," said Kyenta Martins, vice-chair of the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council. She says she is not calling for a mask mandate but rather educating people across the province on why they should be worn.

She says the council would also like to see the Ministry of Health and epidemiologists set clear guidelines on masking, ventilation and filtration to best protect students and teachers.