It’s a race between COVID and frantically trying to get people vaccinated as new COVID modelling paints a bleak picture.
But with wide-spread vaccine shortages, COVID’s now winning on Vancouver Island.
“Three weeks ago we hit the milestone of 1,000 case,” explains Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer. “As of today, we’ve exceed 1,500 so in three-and-a-half weeks we’ve added 50 per cent.”
While cases are levelling off or even dropping in much of B.C., they’re spiking on Vancouver Island.
Cowichan Valley South is sky-rocketing — due in part to the Cowichan Tribes outbreak — with 205 cases in the last four weeks, while the western part of the valley’s only had three.
Nanaimo’s another COVID hot spot with 116 cases since the end of December, while nearby Oceanside’s and Alberni-Clayoquot only saw 11 and seven cases, respectively.
But cases are also rising in Greater Victoria and the rest of the Island.
“We just cannot underestimate the ability for this virus, given the opportunity to spread,” Dr. Stanwick says.
Especially with the new variants detected here, which are believed to be at least 40 per cent more contagious.
And the latest modelling from Simon Fraser University paints a dire picture for Canada — an “unmanageable” spike in cases if the U.K. variant and others aren’t contained.
“If we have a variant that transmits more easily and what we’re doing now isn’t enough, then what are we going to do?” says Simon Fraser University researcher Caroline Colijn, who co-authored the study. “We don’t want to have to do stricter lock-downs for even longer.”
The modelling for B.C. predicts a doubling of new COVID cases every week or two, leading to a massive spike and what researchers say will be “disaster in March.”
“What we need to be doing is stopping them now before they get a foothold in our communities,” Colijn says. “If you see a giant pit of doom in the path you turn around it.”
Researchers say rapid testing, localized lock-downs and increased travel restrictions within Canada could make all the difference.