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B.C. COVID-19 deaths follow global downward trend

B.C.'s 16 such deaths is the fewest since B.C. launched weekly data updates in April
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An ambulance nears Richmond Hospital

B.C. recorded its lowest level of new weekly COVID-19 deaths since the province in April started reporting those deaths on a weekly basis – 16 in the week ended September 10. 

The World Health Organization's (WHO) weekly report yesterday said COVID-19 deaths fell by 22 per cent compared with the previous week, to more than 11,000 worldwide – the fewest since a week in March 2020.

"We are not there yet, but the end is in sight," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said yesterday at a press conference.

B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix yesterday postponed a press briefing set for today that was to include epidemiological modelling for the virus in the province. This was the second postponement in a week and was perhaps due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The press conference was first set for Monday, but was pushed to today. It is not clear when the next live update from officials will take place. 

B.C. data for COVID-19 is widely thought to be inaccurate.

Data for new COVID-19 deaths in B.C. includes anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 within 30 days and then died – a calculation that could include people who tested positive and then died in car accidents.

Despite the province counting 16 new COVID-19 deaths, it raised its figure for the total number of people believed to have died from the disease in B.C. by 33, to 4,216.

Higher additions to the overall COVID-19 death toll in the province than newly counted COVID-19 deaths has happened consistently for months, and it is the opposite of what Henry in April said would happen when the province shifted to reporting data on a weekly basis. 

She said in April that she was changing the process for counting deaths, and that the new procedure would be to include all deaths that involved people infected with COVID-19 in weekly updates and the overall death toll. She said that the province's Vital Statistics Agency would then determine that some deaths were not due to COVID-19 and that it would remove those deaths from the overall death toll. That does not appear to be happening. 

Glacier Media has asked the Ministry of Health why the death toll consistently rises more than the number of new deaths but has not received a satisfactory explanation. The ministry's most recent response was that the data "may be incomplete," but there has never been any updates to previously announced weekly death totals. 

B.C. now has 314 people in hospitals with COVID-19, including people who tested positive for the virus while in hospital for something else. That is down by 10 from one week ago. Of those now in hospital with the disease, 23 have serious enough bouts of disease to be in intensive care units (ICUs) – one more than one week ago.

The government said today that 574 new infections were detected in the week ended Sept. 10 – down by 43 from the 617 known new infections in the week ended Sept. 3. Given that there were said to be 13,642 official tests, that works out to a 4.21-per-cent positive-test rate.

Data for new infections is 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.

One new weapon in the province's arsenal in attacking disease spread is Moderna's vaccine that targets both COVID-19 and its Omicron strain. Doses of that bivalent vaccine were set to arrive last week and be distributed through pharmacies, and eventually provincial vaccine clinics. Details on its availability were expected at the press conference that has so far been postponed twice. •

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