B.C. on track for ‘explosive’ COVID-19 growth, says top doctor

B.C. is on track for an explosive growth of COVID-19 cases across the province if we don’t take a hard look at our current behaviour. That stern warning came from Provincial Health Officer during Monday afternoon’s media briefing in Victoria. Ashley Burr tells us what Dr. Bonnie Henry is now asking the public to do.

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C. recorded 102 new COVID-19 cases over the past three days and health officials are warning the province could see an explosive increase if British Columbians aren’t more careful.

Half of the new cases happened between Friday and Saturday, while those related to the exposure event in Kelowna on the Canada Day long weekend are now more than 60.

That’s up 25 since Friday.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said, according to new modelling data released Monday, British Columbians need to keep their social circles small and among people they know, or case counts could rise rapidly.

“And that’s where we are right now, we are at a bit of a tipping point. We now have started to see cases increase. Our curve is bending up. We know what we need to do to flatten it,” she said.

What we are trying to do, and what we have done from the very beginning here in B.C. was to take the measured approach so that we don’t actually have to go back. We don’t want to be going back to closing things down unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

Henry said the province will discuss enhanced restrictions for how bars and nightclubs operate later this week.

So what we want to do is look at where these transmission events are happening more commonly, and look at the measures that are important to try and reduce the spread in those settings,” she added.

Instructions from WorkSafe BC will also be enhanced to ensure COVID-19 safety plans are being followed, Henry said.

“The other pieces that are really important around those are, you know, we know that when alcohol is served, that people’s inhibitions tend to go away and they may forget some of the rules, and that puts the servers and the people who are working in those settings at risk, as well. So we need to have boundaries around that.”

Henry also said having contact information is key to tracing and the province may consider using some apps to support that.

“But the challenge now is that we are no longer having safe connections, and that is what is spreading this virus. So we are having clusters in certain environments where people are transmitting this,” she added. “We’re seeing parties, small groups people going together to restaurants and bars and clubs, but also in houseboats, resorts at private homes. And the challenge with that is we may not know the people that were in those close contact with.”

Most concerning in the last week and a half, Henry said, is a growth in cases among young people.

She also said a number of recent exposure alerts are related to flights in and out of airports in Victoria, Vancouver and Kelowna.

“These alerts are issued when we’re unable to ensure that we’ve connected with everybody who might have been exposed,” she said.

Infections per case rise

Meanwhile, Henry presented new modelling that showed the average number of new COVID-19 infections per case has now risen above one — the threshold for sustained growth.

“What this shows is that we do have a possibility of having explosive growth in our outbreak here in B.C., if we’re not careful,” Henry said.

Poorer compliance with health and safety advice, such as wearing a mask and hand-washing, could lead to a rebound in new cases, says the report.

The data shows a slight uptick in cases over the past month, as the province relaxed health and safety protocols as part of the third phase of its economic restart plan.

“Our model suggests that increasing numbers of new cases during the summer remain a possibility,” says the report. “Given the relatively small numbers of reported cases at this time, projections into the summer have large uncertainty.”


The modelling report follows a week when the province recorded multiple new outbreaks or exposure events.

While many of the new cases involve people between 20 and 30 years old, the data shows 60 per cent of 189 COVID-19 deaths in B.C. involve long-term care homes.

Another 12 per cent are linked to acute care facilities. Close to 20 per cent of all cases in the province are connected to care facilities.

While no new deaths were reported Monday, three outbreaks remain active at care facilities.

Health survey results

The province also released information about its COVID-19 health survey, completed by close to 400,000 British Columbians.

The survey found 79 per cent respondents can stay home when sick, but just 67 per cent do.

More than 95 per cent practice “preventive personal hygiene,” and more than 90 per cent avoid gatherings.

Close to half of British Columbians say their mental health is worsening during the pandemic, and more so among those ages 18 to 29.

Close to 70 per cent said their work has been impaired by the virus. Another 15 per cent say they are not working due to COVID-19, and 33 per cent say they are having difficulting accessing health care. Another 15 per cent are worried about food becoming insecure.

B.C. has recorded 3,198 cases overall.

No new deaths were reported Monday.

Of 253 active cases, 18 people are in hospital, including two in intensive care.

Cases by health region since the start of the pandemic: 1,042 in Vancouver Coastal; 1,713 in Fraser; 142 people on Vancouver Island; 280 in Interior; 69 people in Northern; and 54 from outside Canada.

“We have had cases this weekend in all health authorities in British Columbia, which reminds us of the fact that this virus continues to circulate. And as we are moving, we are bringing it with us.”

Read the full modelling report:




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