Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel

B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

With daily case counts continuing high in B.C., public health officials are working to automate their reporting of COVID-19 to improve accuracy and efficiency, giving experts more time to analyze results rather than count them.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the rolling seven-day average of infections is more useful to determine what is happening, with a “levelling off” of new infections over the weekend but still almost 600 recorded between Sunday and Monday. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s situation reports each Friday and its seven-day rolling average of test positivity reflect that, she said.

“We know where the issues are, and we know that’s reflected in the numbers and the analysis that we put out in the Friday bulletin,” Henry said Nov. 30. “I’ve heard issues around people travelling, whether it’s for work or also recreational travel, and bringing the virus back with them – things that we should not be doing right now. We know that it is associated with gatherings, even small gatherings where people are coming together and thinking it’s OK.”

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There have also been data reporting errors, particularly as the Fraser Health region has dealt with most of the new infections in B.C. On Monday Henry said totals have been adjusted by adding an additional 277 historical cases that were not previously included.

“Today for example we did a revision and added the additional cases that had not made it into the daily list, even though each of those cases had been notified and public health is following up on them,” Henry said. “In the coming days, we will be switching our systems to automate some of the functions to make it easier, so that we’re not spending our time focusing on adding the numbers and being able to reconcile databases, and we’re able to use the work of the epidemiologists to understand more fully the contacts and the cases and the outbreaks and clusters in the community.

“These daily numbers are important, we recognize that, but it is a snapshot. What we need to track is the trends, are we going up, are we going down, are we levelling off?”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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