On April 7, B.C. will move to report COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths on a weekly basis rather than daily reports that have gone out for the entire pandemic.
The province says this will provide a “more accurate” outlook on COVID trends as the seven-day rolling average is a more reliable indicator of trends than daily reports.
One big change coming to the reports is that the province will move to an automated system for tracking COVID-19 deaths. This means that anyone who dies within a 30-days of a positive PCR test will be considered a COVID death in provincial statistics, regardless of their actual cause of death.
Previously, BC Vital Statistics would take the steps to confirm circumstances around any individual death to determine if it was caused by COVID-19 or other factors before reporting. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that process will still occur, but reported deaths will be updated on a rolling basis. This means that COVID-19 deaths in B.C. will initially be overreported.
Since the Omicron variant fueled the fifth wave in B.C., testing capacity has been limited. The province only reports positive cases recorded on PCR tests, which are extremely limited.
All British Columbians have access to free rapid test kits through their local pharmacies, however, the BCCDC has removed their COVID self-reporting tool, so any positive cases recorded on rapid antigen tests will not be included in case counts.
Hospitalizations and wastewater testing are now seen as the most reliable indicators of COVID-19 transmission in B.C. However, hospitalizations are a lagging indicator.
As of April 4, there were 321 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19, 36 of whom were in intensive care.