You asked: Why the lack of media reporting of active COVID-19 cases vs overall numbers?

Ken Starchuk emailed the Goat in early April and wanted to know why the Province and the media report the total positive COVID-19 cases and the recovered cases separately. Ken asked: It looks like 58% of these cases have recovered in BC. Why is the media not reporting the actual number of active cases, versus the overall number?

Cathy Ulrich, CEO of Northern Health said:


“Just knowing how many active cases we have right at this moment in time doesn’t give you a real sense of work that might be underway with a cumulative total. […] you need both, which is why we’re indicating the number of people who’ve recovered.”

Jonathan Berkowitz, a statistician with a healthcare background, said that using the total number of cases makes it easy to compare with other jurisdictions that are doing the same and provides a good indication of how things are going.

“One of the simplest ways of measuring progress is doing a simple ratio of the number of new cases to the total cases. It’s a simple calculation and it’s a good one,” said Berkowitz.

“There are so many different metrics; we’re not always talking about the same thing,” he said.

He agrees with Starchuck that the key piece is measuring the numbers of new cases.

“Across BC, the curve is certainly flattened. We have been around 40 to 45 cases per day,” he said.

“We don’t want to brag but we’re doing really well.”

Stephen Hoption Cann, chair of UBC’s Clinical Research Ethics Board said the number of recoveries is not the vital piece of information.

“There are a lot of different reasons why people recover. It is of secondary importance to slowing down the number of new cases,” he said.

He agrees one of the reasons to measure the total number of cases is to compare with other jurisdictions.

“If you look at Netherlands or Sweden who are not implementing these lockdown measures, they are seeing steeper rises in the number of cases.”

As of April 13th there have been 1490 confirmed cases, 926 people have recovered and there have been 69 deaths in BC. So far Northern Health has confirmed 26 cases. In all there have been 56,142 tests completed as of April 11.

Support local journalism by subscribing below.


Online subscriptions
Paper subscriptions