British Columbia Ambulance Service paramedics transfer a patient to the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday, March 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

British Columbia Ambulance Service paramedics transfer a patient to the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday, March 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Look at hospitalizations, not recovery stats for COVID-19, B.C. professor says

Cases in hospital are a definitive count of people who have the novel coronavirus

Scientists who track the growth of pandemics say some figures provided by public health officials tell more about the spread of the novel coronavirus than others.

Daniel Coombs says the number of people admitted to hospitals tells him where COVID-19 stands in a community, a province or across the entire country.

The mathematics professor at the University of British Columbia’s institute of applied mathematics said those numbers best indicate the daily status of COVID-19.

The number of new positive tests and reports of how many people have recovered are less important, said Coombs, who has also conducted research on overdose prevention efforts during B.C.’s ongoing illicit opioid overdose epidemic.

“Of all the statistics being reported, I would probably put the least weight on the recovery rate,” he said in a recent interview. “It’s nice information. The numbers I’m really paying attention to at the moment are the numbers of people in hospital, and the number of people in intensive care units and the numbers of deaths.”

He said those in hospital are a definitive count of patients who have contracted COVID-19, adding that the numbers associated with testing are not as firm because there are more variables involved.

Prof. Junling Ma of the University of Victoria’s department of mathematics and statistics said providing the recovery rate figures would likely be viewed by the public as comforting, but scientists are looking at different data.

Ma, who studies the spread of infectious diseases in populations, said the daily toll of new cases provide information, but it’s dated.

“The numbers right now are not quite related to today’s new cases,” said Ma, adding the daily case updates are from people who were infected two weeks ago.

Ontario public health officials reported Monday a total of 4,347 cases and added 13 deaths for a total of 132. There were 589 people in hospital.

Quebec had 8,580 confirmed cases, 121 deaths and 533 in hospital.

B.C. had 1,266 confirmed cases with 140 people in hospital and 39 deaths.

READ MORE: Recovery rate tops 60% but B.C. records death of man in his 40s due to COVID-19

Two dozen people have died in Alberta, which has 1,348 confirmed cases.

Overall, Canada had 16,666 reported COVID-19 cases on Monday, with just over 3,600 cases listed as resolved.

Ma and Coombs said the figure for people listed as being infected with COVID-19 isn’t as helpful as some other numbers because not everybody is being tested. But hospitalization data provides actual head counts, they said.

In recent days, those receiving hospital care in B.C. has not spiked, indicating the province’s self-isolation and physical distancing measures may be slowing the spread of COVID-19, Coombs said.

“What we’re afraid of is seeing exponential growth of anything related to the disease in the province,” he said. “I feel like the hospitalization and ICU number is very important information and may be overlooked by everybody focusing on the number of new cases.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s provincial health officer, credited good fortune and lessons learned from other provinces for early restrictive measures that appear to have helped slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

B.C. learned from Quebec and Ontario, where spring break began two weeks earlier and travellers unknowingly brought back the disease with them, she said.

“A lot of the work we did early on this,” Henry added. “Part of it was the system that we had in place to detect cases in our communities, part of it was luck, and I believe part of it was timing.”

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusUBC

Just Posted

The City of Kimberley has launched a new survey to assess its short-term rental situation. Paul Rodgers file.
Survey launched to assess short-term rental situation in Kimberley

The City of Kimberley has launched a survey with the goal of… Continue reading

BC Wildfire Service personal put out a suspected human-caused fire near Horseshoe Lake. (Photo courtesy Jaime Vienneau)
Small wildfires near Cranbrook are under control or out, but risk still high

The small Hidden Valley wildfire southeast of Cranbrook which started Sunday is… Continue reading

Columbia Valley RCMP say there was one fatality in a single vehicle accident Friday. (File photo)
Traffic fatality reported near Fairmont, Friday May 14

Columbia Valley RCMP are reporting a traffic fatality on Friday, May 14,… Continue reading

A small wildfire — .10 hectare — is burning just southwesst of Cranbrook.
Small wildfire burning just southwest of Cranbrook

According to the BC Wildfire Service, the .10 hectare fire is human-caused

Kimberley Fire Department responding to mobile home fire in Marysville.
Mobile home fire in Marysville Friday evening

The Kimberley Fire Department is on scene at what appears to be… Continue reading

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

(Kamloops This Week)
Puppy’s home in question as BC Supreme Court considers canine clash

Justice Joel Groves granted an injunction prohibiting the sale or transfer of the dog

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Kayak the humpback whale was found dead on a Haida Gwaii beach on Saturday, May 15, 2021. (Marine Education and Research Society)
Kayak the humpback whale found dead on Haida Gwaii beach

Whale was estimated to be only 18 years old

Then-finance minister Kevin Falcon presents his last B.C. budget, Feb. 21, 2012. The province was emerging from the 2009-10 recession and repaying federal incentive to cancel the harmonized sales tax. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Political veteran Kevin Falcon set for second run at B.C. Liberal leadership

Vancouver MLA Michael Lee announces on the same day

Conservation Service Officer Kyle Bueckert holds a gold eagle that was revived from acute rodent poisoning Monday, May 12. Photo: Submitted
‘Obviously, he’s a fighter’: Golden eagle, recovered from poisoning, back in Kootenay wild

CSO Kyle Bueckert released the eagle into the wild Thursday, May 13

Most Read