FREDERICTON (GNB) – Public Health is updating the number of COVID-19 deaths in the province as part of an ongoing review to ensure accuracy in the information reported.

Earlier this year, Public Health partnered with the Vital Statistics branch of Service New Brunswick to establish a procedure to ensure that deaths are attributed to the virus if there is a clinical indication that it was either the primary cause or directly contributed to the death.

Although the process is being streamlined to ensure deaths are classified and reported as early as possible, there can be delays. This is because registrations are filled out by workers in the health-care sector or by funeral directors, resulting in some cases being reported later than others and which need to be reviewed.

As previously indicated in COVID-19 Report: Deceased Reconciliation, deaths are subject to a lag in reporting, with an average of two months between the date of death and receiving the registration of death form at the Vital Statistics branch. Therefore, deaths that are reported weekly do not typically reflect the deaths that have occurred during the reporting period.

This reconciliation analysis has resulted in 86 additional deaths attributed to the COVID-19 virus. The revised number of deaths related to COVID-19 in the province is 714. A chart showing the deaths, and when they occurred, has been posted online.

“This is a strong indication that the new process functions as intended and is allowing us to capture records that would have been otherwise missed,” said Dr. Yves Léger, acting chief medical officer of health.

An updated COVIDWATCH report to be introduced on Dec. 20 will better reflect deaths by presenting them based upon the date of death. Information throughout the report will include the seven-day moving average of COVID-19 deaths, death rates by age group, death rates by vaccination status, and age-adjusted rates.

The changes are designed to reflect a format that several other provinces are using and is better aligned with other standard epidemiological reports.

Public Health will also be changing its COVID-19 vaccination status categories to: unvaccinated, completed primary series, completed primary series and one additional dose, and completed primary series and two or more additional doses.

COVID-19 data will be provided back to Aug. 28, 2022, the start of the current respiratory virus season, in the new template. It will reset after one full year.

Self-reported results from rapid tests will no longer be included in the report because the self-reporting aspect renders them an inaccurate indicator of how many people may be positive. However, the information is still an indicator of virus spread and potential impact. While not in the report, self-reported data will continue to be available on the COVIDWATCH landing page each week.

The public is advised that following the release of the Dec. 20 report, the next COVIDWATCH report will be on Wednesday, Jan. 4 and will include two weeks’ worth of data.