COVID-19 cases in B.C. hospitals hit nine-week low

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The number of patients with COVID-19 in B.C. hospitals fell to its lowest point this week since early November, as province-wide test positivity held steady.

As of Jan.12, there were 302 cases in hospital, down from 352 the week prior. The number of cases in critical care remained unchanged at 25.

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The province’s hospitalization model counts all cases in hospitals, regardless of the patient’s initial reason for admission.

Officials did not provide an update on the spread of the XBB 1.5 variant.

For the week ending Jan. 7, the seven-day rolling average for test positivity edged slightly downward to 14.2 per cent from 14.5 per cent the week prior.

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The provincial average, however, masked regional changes. Positivity in the Vancouver Coastal Health region dipped from 16.4 to 13.1 per cent, while in the Interior Health region it umped to 17.1 per cent. Other regions held relatively steady over the week prior.

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Lab testing, however, remains severely restricted in B.C., focusing on the most high-risk groups. For the week ending Dec. 31, British Columbia performed fewer than 6,000 tests.

For the week ending Jan. 07, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) reported 155 new hospital admissions. This figure is preliminary and typically increased by more than 20 per cent the following week.

The BCCDC reported 28 new deaths for the week ending Dec. 31, though this figure, too, comes with multiple caveats.

Like hospital admissions, the number is typically revised upward the following week. However, B.C.’s fatality model counts all deaths that occur within 30 days of a person’s first positive COVID-19 test, which officials admit overcounts fatalities.

Subsequent analysis has found about four in 10 deaths reported this way since April were actually caused by COVID.  Determining the true cause of death takes about eight weeks.

Of the 1,925 “COVID-19 deaths” the province has reported this way since the start of April, just 741 were later determined to have been caused by the virus, while 902 were not and 227 remained under investigation.

The BCCDC’s latest situation report shows that 87.9 per cent of those actual COVID-19 deaths were among people aged 70 and older, while just eight deaths were among people under the age of 40

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That same report confirmed at least 72 COVID-19 deaths between Oct. 16 and Nov. 12, an average of about 2.6 per day.

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