British Columbia

ICU admissions with COVID-19 up 16% in B.C., but hospitalizations down slightly

British Columbia is reporting a slight uptick in critical care admissions due to COVID-19, with a small decrease in overall hospitalizations, according to the latest pandemic data provided by health authorities Thursday.

401 in hospital after testing positive for COVID-19; 35 in critical care

A series of people lie on a grassy area near a large lake.
Beachgoers enjoy a shady spot along Okanagan Lake in Kelowna where daytime temperatures reached as high as 34 C on Tuesday. (Winston Szeto/CBC)

British Columbia is reporting a small uptick in critical care admissions due to COVID-19, with a slight decrease in overall hospitalizations, according to the latest pandemic data provided by health authorities Thursday.

As of Thursday, 401 people are in hospital after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, including 35 people in critical care, according to the B.C. COVID-19 dashboard.

That's a decrease of 1.2 per cent in overall hospitalizations from last Thursday when the province reported 406 people in hospital. The number of patients in ICU is up 16.6 per cent from 30 a week ago.

A total of 29 people died within a month of testing positive between July 17 and 23, according to the province. Most pandemic data provided Thursday covers the week ending July 23.

The government says its weekly numbers are preliminary. They are often retroactively changed due to what the province says are delays in the count and the new way in which it measures weekly cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

The numbers released Thursday are part of an approach from B.C. health officials that began a few months ago, both in the move to weekly reporting and in how certain metrics are calculated.

For instance, deaths are now recorded if a person died within 30 days of a positive COVID-19 test, whether or not the virus has been confirmed as an underlying cause of death.

A total of 921 new cases were recorded as of July 23, for a total of 378,291 cases, based solely on lab-reported tests. However, because testing is now quite limited, the province says the case count underestimates the actual number of people with COVID-19 in B.C.

Positivity rates, wastewater data appear to plateau

Test positivity rates provincewide took a slight dip compared to last week. The province's dashboard shows an average of 11.1 per cent of COVID-19 tests came back positive on July 23, compared to 12.8 per cent the previous week.

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 community transmission.

Provincial data as of July 16 shows that the BA.5 Omicron sub-variant was responsible for most cases. The immune-evasive variant is the main cause of the ongoing third wave of Omicron, according to the province.

Two women with white hats are among a street parade with people behind them in the medium distance. Both women are wearing large-brimmed white hats with a Canada flag on it. The woman on the left is wearing an orange jacket, and has sunglasses and a white facemask on. The woman on the right has a green patterned shirt, and has sunglasses and a blue facemask on.
People in masks celebrate Canada Day near Canada Place in Vancouver. The province is reporting a small decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations and a slight uptick in ICU cases. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A total of 222 people were admitted to hospital with the disease between July 17 and 23, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).

Wastewater testing at five different treatment plants, representing 50 per cent of B.C.'s population, shows viral loads decreasing compared to last week. 

"With sustained trends in most regions, we have greater confidence these results are consistent with plateauing of COVID-19 incidence in Metro Vancouver," the BCCDC report reads.

B.C. is now edging closer to 4,000 COVID-19 deaths, with 3,908 deaths recorded as of July 23.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Akshay Kulkarni

Journalist

Akshay Kulkarni is a journalist who has worked at CBC British Columbia since 2021. Based in Vancouver, he has covered breaking news, and written features about the pandemic and toxic drug crisis. He is most interested in data-driven stories. You can email him at akshay.kulkarni@cbc.ca.

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