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B.C. shifts to weekly COVID-19 data reporting

As British Columbia continues to take the next step in its COVID-19 response, the Province is transitioning from daily to weekly COVID-19 reporting.

Beginning on Thursday, April 7, 2022, COVID-19 dashboards and reports issued by the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control will be updated on weekly basis here: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/data

The new reports will focus on key measures of severity and trends over time, similar to how other communicable diseases are reported.

The new system continues to provide the data required to guide public health decision-making and allows everybody to have an accurate picture of the COVID-19 climate in their area.

Data will be updated Thursday afternoons and will provide information from the past full week, from the previous Sunday to Saturday.

The first reports and updates will include data up to the week of March 27 to April 2, 2022.

The new COVID-19 reporting approach aligns with a shift away from a “case-management” model to a "surveillance” approach that focuses on identifying meaningful changes in COVID-19 trends over time across different regions of the province. It is similar to how government monitors for other serious respiratory illnesses through FluWatch.

Description of changes

Cases will be based on an individual’s first PCR test through the Medical Services Plan (MSP).

  • In the current system, case counts include both laboratory data and health authority line lists. The latter health authority-based line list workflow will be discontinued with the updated approach.
  • Comparisons between the two systems indicate that the number of reported cases show similar trends over time.

Hospitalization reporting will leverage the hospital occupancy data that is currently used to report on “currently in hospital” for all hospital metrics.

  • With the move to use of broader administrative data there will likely be a one-time increase in the number of cases ever hospitalized.
  • The weekly situation report will move to reporting on critical care, in line with the COVID-19 dashboards. There will also be an increase in the number of cases ever in critical care.

Death reporting is changing to rely on data from Vital Statistics, the agency that registers all deaths in B.C. and reports on death statistics reported by BC Coroners Service.

  • In the current system, each death in someone with a documented COVID-19 infection was reviewed to determine if the death truly resulted from the COVID-19 infection. These were documented on health authority line lists through manual workflows.
  • In the new system, all deaths that occurred within 30 days of an individual’s positive lab result will be reported, regardless of whether the underlying cause of death was determined to be COVID-19 or not. This broader definition means that some deaths will be reported that are not related to COVID-19. Knowing when a death occurred can take, on average, four to six days to enter the system.
  • The new approach relies on more preliminary information from an automated data linkage and discontinues the manual, resource-intensive approach.
  • Mortality data will be reviewed retrospectively once the cause of death is reported by Vital Statistics in order to better understand the true scope of COVID-19 mortality. Cause of death information takes, on average, four to eight weeks to enter the system.
  • Reporting of deaths in this system is different from the previous system and is not comparable. A new separate death data stream will be started while access to the previous records will remain.

Historic data: The transition to a new system will not result in a retrospective altering of past data.

Continuity of reporting

As noted above, despite changing frequency, the COVID-19 dashboards and reports will continue to be updated. This means that for as long as there remains a need to guide public health decision-making, data will continue to be available on the following topics:

  • Epidemiological trends and comparisons
  • Case data, including variants and outbreaks
  • Vaccine reports, including immunization coverage