The B.C. Centre for Disease Control released its latest weekly update on COVID-19 data Thursday, showing a surge in the number of test-positive patients in hospital and other indicators of increasing coronavirus transmission in the province.
Hospitalizations, infections and deaths related to COVID-19 are not evenly distributed across B.C., however.
The available data, while limited, shows the Interior and Fraser health authorities riding highest on the pandemic’s sixth wave.
Of the 485 COVID-19 patients in hospital across B.C. as of Thursday, more than half (299) were located in one of those two health authorities. Fraser Health had 196 test-positive patients in hospital, and Interior Health had 103.
None of the province’s other three geographic health authorities had more than 100 patients in hospital, though Vancouver Coastal Health was close with 95.
Vancouver Coastal Health has a population roughly one-and-a-half times the size of Interior Health’s however, making the latter’s hospitalization total stand out further.
On a per-capita basis, Interior Health had more patients in hospital than any other region Thursday, with roughly 12.5 patients per 100,000 residents. Fraser Health had 10 per 100,000, while other regions’ rates were lower.
Vancouver Coastal Health’s rate was 7.6 per 100,000. Island Health had 66 patients in hospital, for a rate that was also 7.6 per 100,000, and Northern Health had 21 patients in hospital for a rate of 6.9 per 100,000.
It should be noted that hospitalization numbers released by the BCCDC include both those who have severe cases of COVID-19 and require hospitalization, and those who are hospitalized for other reasons and test positive incidentally.
In addition to the number of patients in hospital as of Thursday, the BCCDC also released data on new hospitalizations recorded during the week of April 10 to 16.
Fraser Health saw 97 new hospitalizations during the period, Vancouver Coastal Health saw 44, Interior Health 41, Island Health 39 and Northern Health 17. Those numbers are expected to increase “as data become more complete,” according to the BCCDC.
The infection numbers the province reports weekly are based on “lab-confirmed, lab-probable and epi-linked cases,” but cases confirmed through at-home rapid antigen testing are not included in the total, or even tracked by B.C. health officials.
Because most B.C. residents who have COVID-19 symptoms are not eligible for a lab-based PCR test under the province’s current testing criteria, the case numbers released weekly aren’t necessarily an accurate indication of the spread of the coronavirus in the province.
The true number of active COVID-19 infections in B.C. at a given time cannot be known under the current testing system.
The tests that are administered reflect situations in which having certainty about a COVID-19 diagnosis will affect health-care decisions, according to the BCCDC.
Available regional data suggests that people who are in this situation are testing positive at higher rates in the Interior.
There were 599 new cases reported in Interior Health during the week of April 10 to 16, according to the BCCDC, more than in any other region.
Fraser Health recorded the next-highest total, at 580, but that region has more than double the population of the Interior.
Island Health, which has a similar number of residents as Interior Health, recorded 379 new cases during the period.
Vancouver Coastal Health saw 331 new cases and Northern Health saw 147.
Within Interior Health, the Penticton local health area saw the highest case rate, relative to its population. The region recorded roughly 100 cases, good for a rate of 32 new infections per 100,000 residents per day.
The only local health areas in the Interior that recorded higher raw case counts during the week were Kamloops and the Central Okanagan region, which includes the City of Kelowna.
Due to their higher populations, however, those regions recorded fewer daily new cases on a per-capita basis.
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