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Do patient transfers impact Island Health COVID-19 figures? Yes and no, officials say

New case numbers, hospitalizations two different categories
Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital is one of the Island Health facilities that has taken in patients from Northern Health over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Ministry of Health has announced various transfers of patients in regions with capacity issues to those with more capacity, namely the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

But how do these transfers impact local COVID-19 figures?

Since Sept. 5 there have been 43 transfers of COVID-19 positive patients from Northern Health hospitals to those in Island Health, the Ministry of Health told Black Press Media on Nov. 5.

READ MORE: COVID-19 infection, illness still critical for Northern B.C. hospitals

The Ministry of Health releases its COVID-19 pandemic update every weekday, listing new and active COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths and outbreaks in each health authority across B.C.

Whether patient transfers from elsewhere to Island Health impact the health authority’s daily COVID-19 updates is not immediately clear from official reports. After requests for more detailed information from Island Health and the Ministry of Health, the answer is mixed.

According to Island Health, new cases are attributed to a health authority based on an individual’s home address. This means new COVID-19 cases for a region account only for its residents. However, the way hospitalizations and deaths are reported across health authorities differs from case reporting. According to the Ministry of Health, critical care data is based on where the patient is hospitalized, regardless of their residence.

This means patient transfers do not impact Island Health’s single-day COVID-19 case numbers but are included in hospitalization and death figures.

READ MORE: Island Health hits new record for single-day COVID-19 cases

B.C. health authorities continue to operate scheduled appointment COVID-19 vaccination clinics around the province. A full list of clinic locations and hours across Vancouver Island can be found online by visiting

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