British Columbia’s health officials provided updated COVID-19 modelling data on Thursday, the one-year anniversary since the start of the pandemic.
In a live press conference, hosted by Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, the data showed that hospitalizations and deaths across the province have been on a recent downward trend.
Following a peak of average daily case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths back in December 2020, British Columbia has seen continued declines, which has aligned with the beginning of B.C.’s immunizations.
“If we look at the statistics what we see is that our hospitalizations have levelled out and come down and really importantly, the number of people who are dying from COVID-19 have decreased dramatically,” said Dr. Henry on Thursday.
While the death numbers and hospitalizations have seen improvements, the seven-day rolling average of cases across the province started to uptick once again towards the end of February.
“What we are seeing is the transmission of the virus is being driven by two age groups primarily and that is young people, 19 to 39, and also the age group from 40 to 59,” said Dr. Henry.
The data has indicated to health officials that people getting together for small gatherings continue to be the biggest source of transmission, while workplaces have also presented challenges.
“Many of those workplaces are where people cannot actively separate effectively and the risk is higher,” noted Dr. Henry, suggesting that transmission was higher in essential businesses such as grocery stores.
As far as the death numbers go, Dr. Henry indicated that over the last few months, there has been a number of people in their thirties die from COVID-19 in the province.
Looking back at the statistics from the last year, health officials point out that COVID-19 was the eighth top cause of death in British Columbia over the course of the year.
The median age of people who have died from the virus was 86 years old. With three more deaths announced from the virus on Thursday, the provincial death toll has reached 1,397.
“It tells us that this has had a profound effect on our population,”
The other crisis facing British Columbians — the opioid crisis — was the fifth top cause of death over this past year. The median age of deaths related to drug overdoses was 43 years old.
After presenting the latest modelling data, Dr. Henry revealed that the provincial health order on outdoor gatherings has been amended.
“We know we need that social connection and right now, what we can do, is to safely move outside for some of those connections,” said the provincial health officer.
Dr. Henry said that British Columbians can now gather outdoors with up to 10 people.
“This means your children can have a play date with their friends over the March break, but with their same group of friends,” Dr. Henry outlined.
She noted, however, that children in school should be sticking within the same group of friends that they’re in a cohort with.
“You can meet friends outside and have a coffee, have a chat, have a connection, have a picnic in the park with your grandparents,” the provincial health officer continued. “Should you choose to meet with your family and friends, remember that those safety measures need to continue and need to be top of mind.”
No amendments to the restrictions on gathering indoors are being made at this time as Dr. Henry says those are the restrictions we need to “pay the most attention to.”
This means the current restrictions in households, bars, pubs, restaurants, retail stores and open businesses remain in effect.