British Columbia

B.C. surpasses 5,000 deaths linked to COVID-19 as hospitalizations continue to dip

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 continues to trend slowly downward, according to the latest data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. B.C. has surpassed a total of 5,000 deaths linked to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

There were 268 people in hospital with the virus Thursday, including 17 in critical care

A crowd of people walk through downtown Vancouver. In the foreground is a woman with a beige tuque and brown scarf, wearing a blue surgical mask.
People walk through downtown Vancouver in December 2022. As of Jan. 14, the province says there were 27 new deaths reported among those who had tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 30 days. (Justine Boulin/CBC)

COVID-19 hospitalizations and the number of patients with the virus in critical care both decreased in B.C. this week, according to data provided by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control in its latest weekly update. 

But the province passed a grim milestone, marking over 5,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus since the pandemic began in early 2020.

The BCCDC reported 268 people in hospital Thursday — a decrease of 11 per cent from the week before — and 17 people in critical care, down from 25 last week.

As of Jan. 14, the province says there were 27 new deaths reported among those who had tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 30 days.

A total of 5,007 people in British Columbia are believed to have died of causes linked to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

COVID numbers show 'early signs of potential decline': BCCDC

B.C. reported 560 confirmed new cases as of Jan. 14, down 15 per cent decrease from the 661 reported the week prior.

The number of deaths, hospitalizations and reported COVID-19 cases can all be revised retroactively, as updated data from regional health authorities is submitted to the BCCDC and the provincial Health Ministry.

Still, the centre says the number of new hospital admissions has been decreasing, going from an average of about 37 to 21 per day, and the number of new critical care admissions has remained generally stable.

Hospitalizations and wastewater testing provide a better picture of the disease's impact, as actual case numbers are likely higher than what the BCCDC is reporting.

B.C. is now testing wastewater at sites in Kelowna, Kamloops, Penticton, Victoria, Comox and Nanaimo, but says it needs additional data to properly analyze trends at those locations. Overall, the province says levels of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater remain relatively stable or declining  at the sites it's monitoring in Metro Vancouver.

As for reported cases, those are based primarily on lab-confirmed PCR tests, which are currently inaccessible to the majority of British Columbians.

"SARS CoV-2 detections and COVID-19 severe outcomes remain stable, with early signs of a potential decline," the BCCDC said in its Respiratory Epidemiology Summary report published Thursday afternoon.

The centre says there were 5,694 PCR tests done by the province in the week leading up to Jan. 14 and the seven-day rolling average for confirmed COVID-19 cases has also been relatively stable.

As for flu cases, the province says numbers continued a steep decline this week after an early than usual peak of the influenza epidemic in November.

The BCCDC received no additional reports of pediatric influenza deaths from Jan. 8 to 14 and the report adds that respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity remains high overall, but is declining among people and children age 18 years and younger.