The number of British Columbians with serious enough cases of COVID-19 to be in hospital intensive care units (ICUs) has fallen to a low not seen since summer 2021, according to B.C. government statistics.
Of the 365 people who have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, 19 are listed as being in ICUs – 10 fewer than one week ago. The province last listed that few COVID-19 patients in ICUs on Aug. 3, 2021, while the last time that the number was lower, at 16, was on July 30, 2021.
The province's data is widely seen as inaccurate, and there are questions about methodology.
B.C.'s count for COVID-19 hospital patients includes those who are in hospital for different reasons, and who just happened to test positive for COVID-19. Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry has said that about half of the hospital patients counted as having COVID-19 are these "incidental" cases.
COVID-19 deaths is a much-watched metric because it is the most dire outcome.
The province's methodology for calculating COVID-19 deaths is to include everyone who has died after having officially tested positive for COVID-19 within the past month – a process that could include people who die in car accidents.
Henry said in April, when she introduced this new counting methodology, that the province's Vital Statistics Agency would later determine that some deaths were not due to COVID-19 and that it would remove those deaths from the province's overall death toll. That process would mean that the death toll would be rising on a weekly basis by less than the number of new weekly deaths – the opposite of what is happening.
B.C. counted 25 new deaths In the week up to Oct. 8, and it raised its overall death toll from COVID-19 by 49, to 4,370.
B.C.'s Ministry of Health has not been able to explain why this keeps happening, and has said that data "may be incomplete."
Other data released today included that there were 697 newly detected COVID-19 infections in the week up to Oct. 8 – the exact same number as one week ago. Despite this, the government's total count for COVID-19 infections during the pandemic increased by 694 to 386,293.
Those new cases came from only 6,524 official tests in the week ended Oct. 8, which is a dramatic drop from the 11,511 tests conducted the previous week and an even steeper drop from the 15,531 tests said to be conducted in the week ended Sept. 24.
This is the lowest count of official COVID-19 tests since the province started releasing data on a weekly basis in April, and it is so much lower that it is likely that the data was incorrectly tabulated.
The drop in tests raises the province's official positive-test rate to 10.68 per cent, which would be the highest rate since the province started releasing weekly data. This adds weight to the theory that the provincial data for new tests is incorrect.
Data for new infections has long been widely dismissed. Even Henry, earlier this year, called the data for new cases "not accurate." This is because in December she started telling people who were vaccinated and had mild symptoms to not get tested and to simply self-isolate. She said at the time that this was to increase testing capacity for those with more serious symptoms and those who are more vulnerable.
The province no longer reports how many seniors' care homes have active outbreaks.