B.C. health officials reported 78 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, with Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, saying British Columbians need to pay attention to an upward swing in COVID-19 cases.
According to Henry, modelling shows B.C.’s COVID-19 curve is now climbing at a higher rate than the initial outbreak in March and could see a second wave bigger than the first by September. However, But the province’s contract tracing could provide a buffer to temper that growth.
The province is likely at 70 per cent of its regular contact rate, Henry said, as B.C.has eased restrictions. Henry had advised people to keep contacts at 60 per cent of normal or lower, when the province first entered Phase 3 of its restart plan.
Provincial modelling unveiled Thursday shows at the current rate, daily cases could climb to 100 by September.
Rapid contact tracing will be even more critical, the province says. The government announced Wednesday it would temporarily hire 500 more health-care professionals to work as contact tracers for COVID-19.
“Complete contact tracing ensures we can continue with our restart,” Henry said.
Henry also said there has been a rapid increase in cases among younger people in the past few weeks.
Dr. Henry says the proportion of all COVID-19 cases are heavily weighted towards 20 to 39-year-olds now, compared to previous phases of the pandemic. Transmission events between June and August 8 are related to social events.
None of the new cases reported Thursday are in Island Health. There continue to be three active cases in the health authority.
B.C. has now seen a total of 4,274 cases since the pandemic began, including 150 cases in Island Health, 1,306 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 2,242 in Fraser Health, 398 in Interior Health, 106 in Northern Health and 72 among people who reside outside Canada (visitors and temporary foreign workers).
Nine people are in hospital with COVID-19 (one more than Aug. 12), with four in intensive care (one fewer than Aug. 12). There are 1,878 people who are in isolation who have had contact with a positive case of COVID-19, down from around 1,900 on Wednesday.
“We had a significant number of cases, but the number in critical care decreased. But let’s be clear. Higher case numbers puts everyone at risk. They do,” B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday.
No new COVID-19 deaths were reported on Thursday. The death toll remains at 196. A total of 3,500 people have recovered.
There were no new healthcare outbreaks as of Aug. 13. There is one new community outbreak at the Okanagan Correctional Centre.
Three staff members at the centre have tested positive, and officials are implementing outbreak protocols, Henry said.
Dix said this weekend, parties may not be immediately shut down but there would be consequences for those found flaunting the rules.
Latest epidemiological data
Henry said there are very few COVID-19 cases that do not have a link from within the province.
All areas of the province have been affected by COVID-19. There has been an increase in Interior Health, but the bulk of the cases are still located in the Lower Mainland.
Hospitalizations are very rare in young people, even in young adults. Very few people have required ICU care in B.C. for COVID-19. The deaths heavily skewed to the older population, particularly those over 80.
The numbers of tests are going up again as more people are exposed, according to Henry. Sheencourages anyone with symptoms to get tested and says B.C. continues to build out lab capacity, with 20,000 tests a day across the province as the goal.
British Columbians are slowly but surely increasing connections across the province, Henry said, increasing trips to the park, grocery shopping, workplaces and transit.
Henry also revealed some of the responses to the B.C. COVID-19 Population Healthy Survey, laying out the toll the pandemic has had on people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds.
One in 10 adult British Columbians completed the survey, which asked questions regarding the financial and societal impact the pandemic had taken.
Those who identified as West Asian, Latin American and South Asian respondents were the most likely to report difficulties in meeting financial needs. West Asian, Latin American and Black respondents were the most likely to report job losses caused by the pandemic.
Caucasian respondents reported less financial difficulties and faced less job losses.
Those with lower incomes also reported issues with food security as well as a difficulty in meeting their financial needs.
To see B.C.’s COVID-19 cases by day and health authority, along with testing numbers and recoveries, visit the COVID-19 dashboard.
And to see a list of public COVID-19 exposures, along with link to health exposures listed on health authority websites, visit the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website here.
According to researchers with Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide is more than 20.7 million. There have also been over 751, 000 deaths.
Watch Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix on Aug. 13, 2020
With files from The Canadian Press and CBC