Scientists who track the growth of pandemics say some figures provided by public health officials tell more about the spread of the novel coronavirus than others.

Daniel Coombs says the number of people admitted to hospitals tells him where COVID-19 stands in a community, a province or across the entire country.

The mathematics professor at the University of British Columbia’s institute of applied mathematics said those numbers best indicate the daily status of COVID-19.

The number of new positive tests and reports of how many people have recovered are less important, said Coombs, who has also conducted research on overdose prevention efforts during B.C.’s ongoing illicit opioid overdose epidemic.

“Of all the statistics being reported, I would probably put the least weight on the recovery rate,” he said in a recent interview. “It’s nice information. The numbers I’m really paying attention to at the moment are the numbers of people in hospital, and the number of people in intensive care units and the numbers of deaths.”

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He said those in hospital are a definitive count of patients who have contracted COVID-19,

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