Vancouver Island’s top doctor warns of tough days ahead as COVID-19 transmission surges

Vancouver Island's top doctor warns of tough days ahead as COVID-19 transmission surges

Island Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer is warning rough days could be ahead as COVID-19 case numbers continue to spike.

Dr. Richard Stanwick says the combination of people increasing close contacts and a rising presence of the B-117 variant on Vancouver Island has been a major factor in the recent surge in transmission.

“As we see the number of contacts go up at a time where there’s a UK variant coming in and seeding the Island were looking at a much more challenging time for us going forward,” Stanwick said.

Thursday, B.C. recorded 800 new cases of COVID-19, the most since November 28th. 45 of those were in the Island Health region, where cases are quickly rising — especially on the South Island where the 117 active cases are the highest to date.

On Friday, B.C. reported another 908 cases of COVID-19, the second-highest mark since the start of the pandemic. Of the 908 new cases, 55 are linked to the Island Health region. As far as the Island numbers go, Island Health has now reported 100 new cases in the past 48 hours.

“The modelling suggests that BC could be in a position as early as a month from now where the current strain we’ve been dealing with will no longer be the dominant one and one of the variants will be the norm,” Stanwick said.

Today, Island Health reached the 100, 000 vaccination mark.

A positive step forward, but a highlighted area of concern is the high transmission among younger demographics who won’t be vaccinated anytime soon.

On average, over the past two weeks, 43 per cent of all cases on the Island have been people between the ages of 20-39.

While concerned, Dr. Stanwick says they will continue to prioritize the most vulnerable members of the population.

“It is a race, it’s a battle and we’re trying to enlist as many people as possible, but recognize the group that we’re trying to reach is in fact one of the lower-risk groups.”


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