BC COVID-19 update for April 20: Monthly data reports start May 4

After May 4, the BC Center for Disease Control will report on COVID numbers monthly. It also marks the end of respiratory season reporting

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People are still being hospitalized and dying with COVID-19 across British Columbia. But the coronavirus has become more like a steady omnipresence in recent months — an ongoing risk to the public’s health that the system is going to be dealing with for a long time.

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Accordingly, the BC Center for Disease Control (BCCDC) is scaling back its COVID data reporting after Thursday. That report, the first since April 6, will become a monthly report starting May 4.

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Thursday’s biweekly report showed that deaths, hospitalizations and the number of patients in intensive care have remained steady, ever since a surge in late 2022 and early 2023 as the Omicron variant swept through the population and infected or reinfected large numbers with COVID-19.

There were 316 people in hospital who tested positive for the virus on Thursday, with 20 of them in intensive care; 519 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, although that number under-represented the prevalence of the virus in the population due to limited PCR testing.

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Another 19 people died who had tested positive for COVID-19 in the 30 days before their deaths were recorded in the week of April 8-15. That number has been relatively consistent in recent months, with an average of three to five deaths per day over that span.

Overall, 5,430 people have died in BC since the start of the pandemic after a positive test for COVID-19.

However, according to data collected since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 turned out to be the underlying cause of death in slightly less than half of cases. It may have been a contributing factor in others but wasn’t determined to be the leading cause.

The next data report is in two weeks, then monthly after that.

“COVID-19 information will be consolidated on May 4 and will continue monthly,” said BCCDC spokeswoman Heather Amos. “The last update for respiratory viruses like influenza, RSV, entero/rhinoviruses for the season will be May 4.”

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As provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained earlier this month, COVID-19 “is still with us, and as such, we must remain vigilant and continue surveillance to monitor the situation.”

Henry said health officials will be looking at that data as the next respiratory season approaches to decide whether safety measures need to be reinstated to protect the BC health-care system.

She also continues to recommend a round of vaccinations or a booster shot for anyone not fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, especially for those who haven’t received one of the newer bivalent boosters that better target recent variants.

Appointments can be made across the province at pharmacies and public health clinics by going to the Get Vaccinated website or calling 1-883-838-2323.

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BC’s spring booster program is focused on those over 80 and the immune-compromised, not the general population for those who got bivalent boosters last fall.

The BCCDC also scaled back its COVID-19 data reporting from daily to weekly last October as the situation evolved more than two years into the pandemic.

KEY DATES

April 6: Last weekly respiratory disease report released on the BCCDC respiratory data site.

April 20: Last update of the BC COVID-19 dashboard and epidemiology app. Only archived versions will be available after May 4.

May 4: COVID-19 information simplified and consolidated as updates continue monthly. Final update for the 2022/23 respiratory disease season.

September 2023: Respiratory disease reporting resumes. Final report for 2022/23 season to be released.

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