The number of British Columbians with serious bouts of COVID-19 is continuing to decline, according to new data.
The BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) today said were 28 people in B.C. sick enough to be in the province's hospital intensive care units (ICUs) as of yesterday (June 8).
The last time there were that few COVID-19 patients in those wards was on Aug.10, almost 10 months ago. Back then, the province had 23 such patients.
The way the province counts COVID-19 patients changed on Jan.14 to include more people, so it is possible that were the same counting system in place today as last summer, there would be even fewer people today said to be in those wards.
The counts today include people who went to hospital for a different reason and then tested positive for COVID-19. It also includes people still in hospital even though they have gone more than 10 days after first feeling symptoms, and those COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals who normally reside outside B.C.
Including patients in other hospital wards, there were 325 COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals as of yesterday. That number has declined in each of the past four weekly data reports, and is the lowest total since April 7, nine weeks ago.
B.C. Premier John Horgan said in late May that "The pandemic is waning. It's becoming endemic."
Nonetheless, the BC CDC calculated that for the week that ended June 4, 43 people in B.C. had died while infected with COVID-19. This is down by one from the week that ended May 28, and it includes anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 within 30 days and then died. That calculation may include people who tested positive and then died in car accidents.
The B.C. government's process is to include those deaths initially, and then have its Vital Statistics Agency determine which deaths were not COVID-19-related, and remove them from the total.
As has been the case in each weekly update since the government shifted to only providing data once per week, the presumed COVID-19 death toll has risen by more than the number of new COVID-19 deaths. That is the opposite of what Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said would happen when she unveiled the new system in early April.
B.C.'s COVID-19 death toll rose by 67 in the week that ended June 4, despite 43 new deaths reported. The province now considers 3,614 people to have died from COVID-19 in B.C. since the first death was announced on March 9, 2020 – a man in his 80s who lived at North Vancouver's Lynn Valley Care Centre.
The BC CDC detected 895 new COVID-19 infections in the week that ended June 4. That is the lowest weekly total since the province shifted to weekly updates, on April 7. The 19,929 COVID-19 tests conducted in the week ended June 4 was also the fewest tests conducted in a week since the shift to weekly data reporting. Some good news is that the 4.49-per-cent positive-test rate in the week that ended June 4 is also the lowest since the start of weekly data reporting.
Data for new infections, however, has long been widely dismissed, and even Henry earlier this year called the information "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.
Testing is now only encouraged in cases where knowing the test result could change treatment recommendations.