British Columbia moves to weekly COVID 19 reporting, changes how deaths are counted

The BC government has moved to provide COVID-19 updates on a weekly rather than daily basis, saying the change aligns with moving from a case management model to a surveillance.

A Bulletin of the Ministry of Health indicates that the weekly reports will focus on identifying significant changes in key COVID-19 metrics and trends over time.

It also says death reports are changing to count all deaths that occur within 30 days of the person’s positive lab result, whether or not the underlying cause of death is related to COVID-19.

It’s the latest change the province has made in its approach to handling the pandemic, which has claimed 3,004 lives so far.

“Being able to manage yourself now”

On Friday, British Columbians will no longer need to show their vaccine passport card from 12:01 a.m., while the mask mandate for most indoor public spaces was lifted on March 11.

Provincial health officer Dr Bonnie Henry said Thursday the changes are not a sign that the pandemic is over, but that they are moving to a phase where people should be able to self-manage their risks.

She said most British Columbians have high levels of protection against serious illness from COVID-19 through vaccination.

10:38Dr. Bonnie Henry on scrapping the vaccination card system

British Columbia will drop its mandatory vaccine card system this Friday. There will also be a fourth round of vaccine doses for elderly and immunocompromised people in British Columbia. To find out more about this, we contacted the provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. 10:38

“This virus is still here and it is going to be here for years and we are going to have to deal with it without having to take legal or drastic measures which also have negative impacts,” she said. “It’s really about being able to handle yourself now.”

Henry is asking people to watch for symptoms, order rapid tests, and stay home if you’re sick until your symptoms go away.

11 deaths from March 27 to April 2

Until now, whenever a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 died, their death was reviewed to determine if the cause was the infection.

The ministry says the new “broader definition” means some deaths will be reported that are not actually caused by COVID-19.

He says the reports will be posted on the British Columbia Center for Disease Control (BCCDC) website Thursdays with data from Sunday to the previous Saturday.

There will likely be a one-time increase in the number of people hospitalized with the move to “broader administrative data”, he notes.

Information on COVID-19 cases will be based on a person’s first molecular or PCR test under the province’s medical services plan, the ministry bulletin said.

The first weekly report covering the period from March 27 to April 2 shows that 11 people have died, a measure of “30-day all-cause mortality”, while 193 people have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19 and a total of 1,706 new cases have been confirmed during this period .

By comparison, 13 deaths were reported from March 20 to March 26 and 20 deaths from March 13 to March 19, under the new reporting system.

From March 20 to 26, there were 220 hospital admissions due to COVID-19.

The weekly report says the number of deaths recorded from March 27 to April 2 is expected to increase as more data becomes available.

On Thursday, the BCCDC reported on its COVID-19 Dashboard than 324 people in hospital, down four patients from the previous day and 38 people in intensive care, an increase of one.

Sewage increases, vaccinations slow

Meanwhile, transmission levels of COVID-19 detected in sewage samples from four of Metro Vancouver’s five treatment plants have increased, continuing a trend seen in the second half of March.

Levels remained between 72 and 90% lower than those detected during Omicron’s peak transmission recorded in January.

The number of new vaccines distributed is slowing, with the number of third vaccines distributed increasing by less than 1% over the past week, for a total of 53.76% of eligible British Columbians receiving a third dose as of April 6.

Earlier this week, the government announced it was distributing fourth doses to people aged 70 and over and other vulnerable groups.