COVID-19 hospitalizations in B.C. are up slightly again this week as the province moves into the fall respiratory illness season.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control reported 369 people in hospital with the virus Thursday, an increase of two patients from last week's report. The number of people in critical care has fallen by one to 29.
In the week leading up to Oct. 1, 19 new deaths were reported among people who tested positive for the coronavirus within the previous 30 days. That brings the total number of deaths potentially linked to the disease to 4,321.
A total of 697 new cases of COVID-19 were reported by B.C. labs in the same week, marking a 9.6-per-cent increase from the previous week. Case totals are understood to be significant underestimates of the true spread of the disease because most people are now testing themselves at home.
All of the weekly numbers shared by the province are preliminary and are often changed retroactively because of delays in the count and new methods the province is using to calculate weekly cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
For example, last week, the BCCDC reported 16 deaths between Sept. 18 and 24, but that figure has now more than doubled to 34.
Meanwhile, wastewater testing for the week of Sept. 18-24 shows that viral loads increased at three of four water treatment plants under surveillance.
The latest numbers come as health officials are urging British Columbians to sign up for their booster shots when they receive an invitation and to get a flu shot as soon as possible.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix have said B.C. is preparing for a simultaneous increase in COVID-19 and flu cases in the coming months.