Data from Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan show a similar trend
Half of the COVID-19 patients in Quebec hospitals were admitted for reasons other than the disease itself, the province’s data shows. The figure is in the ballpark of the Ontario number, announced to be around 45 percent by the province’s chief medical officer.
In the latest daily update of Quebec’s COVID-19 situation, the province’s health ministry posted on Twitter on Jan. 21 that on Jan. 20, of the 3,086 hospitalized patients who have COVID-19, just half (1,549) were admitted for COVID-19.
Quebec on Jan. 11 began differentiating between those admitted to hospital for COVID-19 and those admitted for other reasons but tested positive for the disease while in hospital. According to the daily updates since Jan. 11, the percentage of those admitted because of COVID-19 has consistently been between 48 and 50 percent.
Quebec’s figures are somewhat in line with those of Ontario, whose chief medical officer Dr. Kieran Moore said at a press conference on Jan. 13 that “roughly 45 percent” of Ontario’s COVID-related hospital admissions are “incidental.”
“We know roughly 45 percent of admissions to hospital are incidental to being diagnosed with COVID-19. In the intensive care unit, roughly 20 percent are incidentally testing positive,” Moore said.
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The statistics he provided stayed relatively the same on Jan. 21, at 46 percent and 18 percent respectively, while Quebec reported its intensive care unit (ICU) having 16 percent admitted for other reasons on Jan. 20.
Other provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan have also changed the way they report COVID-related hospitalizations in order to identify possible incidental cases.
Alberta reported on Jan. 22 that, of the 754 COVID-19 non-ICU-admissions between Jan. 10 and Jan. 20, 42 percent (317) were incidental cases, meaning cases “where a COVID-positive person has been hospitalized but their reason for admission was deemed to be unrelated to their COVID diagnosis.”
Among the rest, 39 percent (294) were admitted primarily because of COVID-19, 16 percent (124) were admitted where COVID-19 was a contributing factor, and 3 percent (19) were cases indicated as “unable to determine.”
Meanwhile, of the 62 COVID-19 patients admitted to ICU during that period, Alberta’s data showed that 29 percent (18) were incidental COVID-19 cases, while 53 percent (33) were primary COVID admissions, 16 percent (10) were COVID-contributing admissions, and 2 percent (1) were indicated as “unable to determine.”
Saskatchewan reported that on Jan. 21 there were 192 COVID-19 non-ICU hospitalizations. Among them, 46 percent (88) patients were admitted due to COVID-19-related illness, another 46 percent (89) were incidental cases, and 8 percent (15) were cases for which the cause had not yet been determined.
As for COVID-19 ICU hospitalizations, the province reported 23 for that day. Among them, 65 percent (15) were for COVID-19-related illnesses, 30 percent (7) were incidental, and just 4 percent (1) were “undetermined.”
Some U.S. states including New York and New Jersey have also started distinguishing between COVID-19 and incidental COVID-19 hospitalizations. Their statistics have shown patterns somewhat similar to those of the four Canadian provinces.
New York officials said on Jan. 7 that, of the state’s 11,548 hospitalized patients who have COVID-19, 43 percent (4,928) didn’t have COVID-19 listed as one of the reasons for admission.
New Jersey officials said on Jan. 10 that, of the state’s 6,075 hospitalized patients who have COVID-19, just 49 percent (2,963) were actually admitted for COVID-19.