Another 59 people died in B.C. last week after testing positive for COVID-19, while the number of patients in intensive care with the disease appears to have surged, according to the province's latest reports on the pandemic.
As of Thursday, 596 people are in hospital with the novel coronavirus, including 54 in intensive care, according to the B.C. COVID-19 dashboard.
That would represent an increase of eight per cent in overall hospitalizations from the numbers last Thursday, when the province reported 550 people in hospital. The number of patients in ICU is up 38 per cent from 39 a week ago.
But all of the figures released by the province are preliminary, and making comparisons from week to week has become difficult.
Under B.C.'s current system for reporting COVID-19 data, numbers that are released for any given week will be retroactively adjusted and often change significantly by the time the next reports are released.
For example, one week ago, the weekly report from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control said that between April 24 and 30, 50 people had died within 30 days of testing positive for COVID-19.
The latest report released on Thursday now says that 68 people died in that time frame — a 36-per-cent spike over what was previously reported.
The numbers released Thursday are part of a relatively recent approach that B.C. health officials introduced earlier this year, both in the move to weekly reporting and in how certain metrics are calculated.
New cases appear to be down
The BCCDC report shows that 1,987 new cases of COVID-19 were reported between May 1 and 7, based solely on lab-reported results, for a total of 367,559 cases to date.
The report shows that the number of new cases is down by about 13 per cent from 2,283 reported the previous week. However, because testing is now quite limited, the case count underestimates the true number of people with COVID-19 in B.C.
A total of 331 people were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 between May 1 and 7, according to the BCCDC.
The current estimate for deaths during that time is 59, a figure that is being reported in a very different way from in the past.
Those deaths include 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. Previously, each death was investigated to determine if COVID-19 was a cause.
Test positivity rates are still high, hitting 10.6 per cent provincewide on May 7. Positivity rates range from as high as 19.9 per cent in the Island Health region to as low as 6.5 per cent in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, according to the dashboard.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said anything above a five per cent test-positivity rate is an indicator of a more worrying level of transmission.
Wastewater testing at five different treatment plants representing 50 per cent of B.C.'s population shows a downward trend at four out of five sites as of May 7, and no clear trend at the fifth, according to the BCCDC's latest situation report.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at the time that B.C. has high enough vaccination rates that such requirements are no longer necessary to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.