The B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s latest update on COVID-19 data released Thursday showed another increase in hospitalizations, as well as other indications that the province’s sixth pandemic wave is still growing.
The growth hasn’t been evenly distributed across the province, however. While the Interior and Fraser health authorities had the worst of the available data last week, they’ve moved in opposite directions since then.
At this time last week, Fraser Health and Interior Health were the only health authorities in the province with more than 100 COVID-19-positive patients in hospital. Fraser Health had 196 and Interior Health had 103.
As of Thursday, Fraser Health’s hospital census had risen to 209, while Interior Health’s had declined to 98.
Interior Health was the only regional health authority that saw its hospitalization total decline this week, a week in which the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients province-wide grew from 485 to 570.
Much of the overall growth was driven by a surge in hospitalizations in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which saw the number of COVID-19 patients in its hospitals rise from 95 on April 21 to 155 on April 28.
Island Health had 76 patients in hospital this week, up 10 from the previous week, while Northern Health had 24 patients (up three).
People are counted in the BCCDC’s hospitalization totals if they test positive for COVID-19 during routine screening for hospital admission, regardless of whether the disease is the reason for their hospitalization.
In addition to the number of patients hospitalized as of Thursday, the BCCDC released data this week on new hospital admissions from April 17 to 23.
During that span, every regional health authority saw a greater number of new admissions than it did the previous week, and the BCCDC says the latest numbers are “expected to increase as data become more complete.”
Fraser Health saw at least 150 new admissions during the period, Interior Health had the next most with 65, Island Health had 62, Vancouver Coastal Health 58 and Northern Health 20.
Available data on new COVID-19 infections in B.C. is limited by the province’s testing strategy. The BCCDC only reports “lab-confirmed, lab-probable and epi-linked” cases of the coronavirus. It does not collect or release the results of at-home rapid tests, which are the only testing option available to most B.C. residents.
Those who do receive lab-based PCR testing in B.C. are those whose care will be altered by a positive result – such as people who are at risk of serious illness and eligible for antiviral medication.
The number of people in this situation who tested positive during the week of April 17 to 23 grew substantially in Fraser Health compared to the previous week’s total.
The region saw 831 newly confirmed infections during the week, compared to 581 during the preceding seven days.
Interior Health, meanwhile, saw its total drop slightly, from 598 during the week of April 10 to 16 to 582 during the week of April 17 to 23.
The Northern and Island health authorities saw their new caseloads drop slightly, as well, while Vancouver Coastal Health saw an increase.
Looking more closely at the distribution of positive tests within health authorities, a few local health areas stand out.
The region that includes most of the City of Surrey had the largest case total of any local health area in the province from April 17 to 23, recording 218 of Fraser Health’s cases.
On a per-capita basis, however, the South Surrey/White Rock local health area was Fraser Health’s hotspot. The 95 new infections recorded there during the week translates to 12 new lab-confirmed cases per 100,000 residents each day.
Province-wide, the highest case rate again belonged to the Penticton local health area, which saw 75 new infections, or 23 per 100,000 residents per day.
Those numbers represent an improvement from the previous week, when Penticton’s daily case rate was 32 per 100,000.
More information on the regional distribution of positive PCR tests in B.C. can be found on the BCCDC’s COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard.