COVID-19 positive test cases are doubling in B.C. every 13 days, and if that trend continues, it puts the province in dangerous territory.
The information comes out of the latest computer modelling released Thursday by the B.C. Ministry of Health that analyzes and projects coronavirus infection growth.
If the exponential growth continues — one that is being seen in many parts of the world — it will stretch the province’s ability to properly trace contacts of infected people, essential to further halting the spread of the virus, and could lead to further restrictions to those put in place last weekend, warned B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Hospitalizations have also been increasing, although deaths have not seen exponential growth, but the concern is that could happen if the cases continue to spike. Already, cases have begun to spill out of younger age groups into the much more vulnerable 80 years and older group.
“There is the possibility we will need to do more or different things,” said Henry.
“We need to come back to making our wall strong so we can manage and control the spread, instead of it controlling us. We are in a challenging time, perhaps the most challenging time of this pandemic,” she said.
There were 594 new daily cases announced Thursday, in addition to 536 cases on Wednesday.
Of the 1,130 new cases, 808 were in the Fraser Health region and 249 in Vancouver Coastal Health. If cases continue to double every two weeks, that would mean more than 1,000 cases a day by the end of this month and nearly 2,500 a day by mid-December.
In order to provide a two-week “circuit breaker,” Henry announced last weekend new restrictions in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions aimed at reducing social contacts and banning indoor group physical activities such as yoga, spin-cycling and hockey games. The restrictions are set to end Nov. 23.
Henry said health officials will start to see whether they are working or not beginning next week.
While the rapid increase in the past several weeks has been most noticeable in Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions, cases are also on the rise in other parts of the province, showed data released by the province Thursday.
It’s why it is critical to physically distance from people not in your household and use other measures such as masks in indoor public places, said Henry.
She said increasing evidence from the northern hemisphere is showing that the coronavirus can spread more easily in the winter months.
The information released by health officials showed that transmission of the virus by children who are in school is not a major concern.
Most transmission is happening in households and in the community.
As part of its modelling work, the province released information that showed how the virus can spread at a workplace, at a wedding or a fitness class.
Based on a real-life example, one infected person who attended a fitness class led to 180 positive cases at two group fitness studios. More people tested positive who had contact with the people who attended the fitness class, there were six school exposures, four people tested positive at a correctional facility, 80 workers had to self-isolate and three people were admitted to hospital.
It explains and underscores the importance of the latest restriction measures, said Henry.
Although hospitalizations have increased to levels not seen since spring, hospital capacity is in good shape, said Health Minister Adrian Dix.
A key concern of managing the pandemic is to ensure the critical health-care system is not overwhelmed, as it can lead to worse health outcomes and more deaths.
“This is a significant moment,” said Dix. “That’s why I think it’s so important that we take these steps and follow the guidance and public health orders.”
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