B.C.’s pandemic is largely stabilizing and cases are even declining, but the province is still not out of the woods and should not relax restrictions yet, according to a new report from an independent group of academics.
The B.C. COVID-19 Modelling Group, led by University of Victoria physicist Dr. Dean Karlen, found that new cases are slowly and steadily easing.
“Our fourth wave, with that dramatic increase in cases that we saw during August, and the introduction of measures Aug. 25, which led to a turnaround,” said Karlen.
That turnaround is even occurring in hot spots like northern B.C., according to the report.
“We’re in a period of pretty stable behaviour resulting in stable transmission of COVID across the province,” Karlen said.
He added that cases are dropping at a rate of two per cent every day.
“It does not sound very significant. But after a week, you maybe have 20 per cent fewer cases. And after three weeks, perhaps three or four weeks, you’re down by a factor of two.”
The group anticipates hospitalizations will level off over the next three weeks.
But with case counts still hovering close to 600 per day, Karlen said now is not the time to ease up on restrictions.
“We should not relax too quickly any of these measures, because the rate of growth is very sensitive to those measures,” he said.
On Tuesday, the province announced 678 Island Health workers missed the deadline to be vaccinated in an effort to stem the pandemic in B.C.
If they want to keep their jobs, they’ll have to get a first shot by Nov. 15.
The deadline has come and gone for all unvaccinated long-term care and assisted living employees who have officially now lost their jobs.
Many are grieving those firings, according to Mike Old, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees Union.
“We know that in all health authorities, that we have members in those sectors who have filed grievances. and certainly, as the union, we will investigate the grievances based on the underlying facts,” he said.
In the coming months, booster shots will be offered to all British Columbians starting with those 70 and older, Indigenous people and people who are immunocompromised.