British Columbia

Number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 is beginning to fall, latest B.C. numbers show

Another 50 people died in B.C. last week after testing positive for COVID-19, but there are signs in the province's weekly reports that the latest wave of the pandemic has begun to recede.

50 more deaths reported last week in people who've tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Pedestrians cross the street at the intersection of Main and East Hastings in Vancouver on April 28. After rising for weeks, the number of patients with COVID-19 in hospital has started to fall, the province's weekly reports show. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Another 50 people died in B.C. last week after testing positive for COVID-19, but there are signs in the province's weekly reports that the latest wave of the pandemic has begun to recede.

After rising for weeks following the end of indoor mask requirements and the vaccine passport program, the number of patients in hospital has started to fall, and wastewater testing numbers are showing a similar trend.

As of Thursday, 550 people are in hospital with the novel coronavirus, including 39 in intensive care, according to the B.C. COVID-19 dashboard.

That's a decrease of 3.5 per cent in overall hospitalizations from last Thursday when the province reported 570 people in hospital. The number of patients in ICU is down 17 per cent from 47 a week ago.

The government says its weekly numbers are preliminary. It has been retroactively adjusting them due to delays in the count and the new way in which it measures weekly cases, hospitalizations and deaths. 

Wastewater testing at treatment plants representing 50 per cent of B.C.'s population shows that, for the first time in six weeks, viral loads were stable or declining at three out of five locations as of April 30, according to the province's weekly situation report.


Other data related to the pandemic is available in a report from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), which tracks cases, hospital admissions and deaths between April 24 and 30.

It shows that 2,283 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in that time, based solely on lab-reported results, for a total of 365,577 cases to date. 

However, because the availability of testing is now limited across the province, the case count is understood to be an underestimate of the true number of people with COVID-19 in B.C.

A total of 375 people were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 between April 24 and 30, according to the BCCDC.


Test positivity rates still high

While B.C. is reporting that 50 more people died between April 24 and 30, that figure is being reported in a very different way from in the past.

Those deaths include everyone who died within 30 days of testing positive for COVID-19, whether or not the virus has been confirmed as an underlying cause of death. Previously, each death was investigated to determine if COVID-19 was a cause.

Test positivity rates are still high, at 11.2 per cent province-wide on April 30, according to the B.C. CDC dashboard.

More than 20 per cent of COVID-19 tests in the Interior Health region came back positive on that date, while Vancouver Coastal Health was seeing the lowest test positivity rate at 6.7 per cent.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said anything above a five per cent test-positivity rate is an indicator of a more worrying level of transmission.

B.C. lifted mandatory masking requirements in most indoor public spaces on March 10, and proof-of-vaccination requirements on April 8.


Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at the time that B.C. has high enough vaccination rates that those requirements are no longer necessary to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.

In the weeks after, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations steadily increased throughout March and the first half of April, before showing signs of slowing this week.

Provincial numbers show 32,863 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered from April 24 to 30.