B.C. health officials announced another 1,130 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, and four new deaths, as the coronavirus continued to surge provincewide.
Thursday’s update from Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, accounts for 48 hours. Health officials confirmed 536 cases Wednesday and another 594, a one-day record, overnight into Thursday. But new data suggests the province could be reporting over 1,000 cases a day by the end of November.
According to the latest epidemiological modelling, presented Thursday, cases of COVID-19 are doubling in B.C. every 13 days.
“We’re now in a second phase,” Henry said, “and we need to take a step back and look at how we can manage to get us through the next few months.”
Case counts have been accelerating for over a month, especially in the Fraser Health region, which accounts for 808 of the newly reported cases. But this recent surge is not limited to one region, or even one province.
“As we have seen in many parts of Canada and the world, here in B.C. the rate of transmission has risen rapidly in the past few weeks,” Henry said.
A record 3,148 cases were confirmed by B.C. health officials just this week, and total cases in the province now exceed 20,000 — doubling the numbers from just 35 days ago.
Active cases reached 5,793 and climbing Thursday, as Henry confirmed that B.C.’s reproductive number — the number of new infections spread per case — is over one.
“The rate of increase puts all of us at risk,” Henry said. “Without a slowdown, it will make it difficult to manage and contain the virus in our province.”
It also makes the task of tracking transmission that much more difficult, and Henry admitted Thursday that the surge in cases is beginning to overwhelm contact tracers.
“Our ability in public health to find everybody in a timely way, particularly in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal regions, has been stretched to the max,” Henry said. “We are falling a little bit behind, which is why we’ve put in the measures that we put in.”
“We’re starting to see an increase in hospitals, we’re starting to see more people in long-term care being affected. And that’s our signal. It’s time to step back, we have to step back from our social interactions, so that we can protect our communities’ health and wellness, in the long term.”
The province has hired an additional 636 contact tracers, Dix said, and more are in the interview stage.
Outbreaks have been declared at six more B.C. health-care facilities: Chartwell Langley Gardens, Peace Portal Seniors Village, The Harrison at Elim Village, Finnish Manor, Dania Home and Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
Outbreaks at CareLife Fleetwood, Hamilton Village and Mayfair Terrace Retirement Residence have been declared over. Active outbreaks in the provincial health-care system stand at 42.
Three of the deaths reported Thursday were in long-term care facilities; 288 people have now died from COVID-19 in the province. Hospitalizations climbed to 155 Thursday, with 44 people in intensive care. Another 14,089 residents have recovered from the virus.
“We are at a place that is challenging for us, and we don’t want to be here,” Henry said Thursday. “But it is our reality, and it’s one that we’re dealing with, along with everybody else around the globe.”
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