Ontario is the first province in Canada to update its COVID-19 reporting system to better distinguish patients hospitalized because of the virus from those who tested positive for it after coming to hospital for other reasons.

Ontario health minister Christine Elliott made the announcement on Tuesday, saying that “while this doesn’t change the serious situation in Ontario’s hospitals, it is important to share this data to provide additional context on the state of the pandemic.” 

Elliott announced 3,220 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those patients, 54% were admitted for COVID-19 and 46% came in for other reasons but tested positive for the virus upon being admitted to hospital. 

Of the people in the ICU, Elliott said 83% were admitted for COVID-19 and 17% came in for other reasons but tested positive on admittance.  

Ontario has administered about 28.7 million vaccines, and more than 141,000 doses were injected on Monday. About 88% of Ontarians five years old and up have received one dose, and 82% have two doses. 

There were 7,951 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario announced on Monday. Fully vaccinated people in hospitals with COVID now outnumber those who are unvaccinated and those with one COVID shot. This is not, however, the case with ICUs. 

As of Monday, Ontario had 1,612 fully vaccinated people in hospital, 552 unvaccinated and 123 partially vaccinated. For ICUs, Ontario reported 138 unvaccinated people, 14 partially vaccinated and 158 fully vaccinated. 

British Columbia and Alberta have also suggested they will look at changing the ways COVID hospitalization numbers are reported. 

B.C. chief medical officer of health Bonnie Henry admitted last week that the province’s COVID-19 hospitalization numbers are unspecific when it comes to telling who is sick with the virus from who tested positive for it. She said that the province is currently counting everyone in hospitals with a positive test as a hospitalization from COVID-19. 

“We’re trying to tease apart people who are in hospital from COVID, people who are in hospital with COVID, and people who are in hospital because COVID exacerbated one of the underlying conditions,” said Henry. “It’s not easy to do that, except by going and looking at every individual chart.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said on Tuesday that many COVID-19 cases in Alberta’s hospitals are situations where the virus is not the primary reason for hospitalization. 

Kenney said that 40% of COVID-19 patients in Alberta hospitals and about 79% patients in ICUs are there because of the virus. 

“On the non-ICU side at least, we can expect that a significant number of COVID-related hospitalization figures are for people who are not primarily hospitalized or affected by COVID,” he said. 

Neither B.C. nor Alberta has provided a timeline for updating its reporting system.

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