The number of patients in B.C. hospitals with COVID-19 appears to have fallen again, according to the province's latest reports on the pandemic.
As of Wednesday, 421 people are in hospital with the novel coronavirus, including 41 in intensive care, according to the B.C. COVID-19 dashboard.
That's a decrease of 12 per cent in overall hospitalizations from last Thursday, when the province reported 473 people in hospital. The number of patients in critical care is down two per cent from 42 a week ago.
All of the numbers provided by the province are preliminary, and it's difficult to draw any definitive conclusions on trends. 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.
The numbers released Thursday are part of a relatively recent change in approach from B.C. health officials, both in the move to weekly reporting and in how certain metrics are calculated.
Much of the data from the province is in a weekly report from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, which includes cases, hospital admissions and deaths — although all of those numbers are at least five days old.
Between May 22 and 28, the province is reporting 44 deaths. However, that number is being reported in a much different way from in the past, and includes all deaths for anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 30 days, whether or not the disease has been confirmed as a contributing factor.
The number of deaths is also likely to change significantly by next week.
During the last reporting period, the province said that 42 people had died between May 15 and 21. That total has been retroactively adjusted to 72 — a spike of 42 per cent.
Current hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in B.C.
Number of reported cases falling as well
This week's BCCDC report includes 1,163 new cases of COVID-19 reported between May 22 and 28, based solely on lab-reported results, for a total of 371,720 cases to date.
That's a decline of about 14 per cent from the 1,358 recorded the previous week, according to the province's retroactively adjusted data.
However, because PCR testing is now quite limited, weekly case counts are understood to significantly underestimate the true number of people with COVID-19 in B.C. The results of at-home rapid tests — the testing mode available to the majority of British Columbians — are not included in the weekly numbers.
COVID-19 waves in British Columbia
The percentage of people testing positive has declined slightly. A total of 8.4 per cent of all PCR tests came back positive in B.C. as of May 28, compared to 8.6 per cent the previous week.
Test positivity rates vary widely across the province, from 13.3 per cent in the Interior to seven per cent in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
Wastewater testing at five different treatment plants representing 50 per cent of B.C.'s population shows a sustained decrease in viral loads at two testing sites as of May 28, while the other three show little change from the previous week, according to the province's weekly situation report.
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.
A total of 265 people were admitted to hospital between May 22 and 28 for COVID-19.
According to the BCCDC's regional dashboard, unvaccinated people were about twice as likely to require hospitalization over the last two months compared to someone with three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, three times more likely to require critical care and 1.4 times more likely to die.