Thursday was the second straight day the province broke its daily COVID-19 case count record.
On Thursday, B.C. announced a new record of 274 cases, up from the previous record set on Wednesday with 203. These numbers aren’t surprising according to modelling of data, but they are still concerning.
“Cases can cause other cases, that’s how infectious disease works,” explained Caroline Colijn, the Canada 150 research chair in mathematics for infection, evolution and public health. “And that’s why we see exponential growth. So the more we have, the more we risk.”
One recent model Colijn produced based on data from the BC CDC shows cases could double in about 40 days if the province continues down this trajectory. This means by January, B.C. could be reporting 500 cases a day.
“If we don’t change what we’re doing, then it’s going to get worse because what we’re doing now is having rising cases,” said Colijn, who is also a mathematics professor at Simon Fraser University.
Colijn added it’s important to note the models don’t show what’s going to happen in the future, they just show what path the province is on if we don’t change the direction B.C. is going in.
British Columbians should be limiting the number of interactions where there is potential to spread respiratory droplets and aerosols, she explained, such as eating, drinking and singing — especially in large groups where people are close together.
Although the province reported record highs over the last two days, Island Health only saw five cases in total over the past 48 hours.
“Islands are great in the sense that they have a kind of natural barrier but they’re not isolated, of course,” Colijn said. “People get on ferries and planes and they go to the Island, then they come back.”
Outbreaks around the country and B.C. can still arrive on the Island via travel and all it takes is one bad case for things to take a turn for the worse.
“The problem is when you get unlucky, you can get very unlucky,” Colijn said.
While the number of cases in Island Health remains relatively low compared to the rest of the province, there’s no way to predict how long that will last.
Modelling can’t tell us that because it can’t predict human behaviour, Colijn explained, but if people follow the guidelines and precautions, it lowers the risk.