B.C. school-related COVID-19 cases show that most students with respiratory symptoms do not have COVID-19, a finding made easier by introduction of simpler tests for children. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

B.C. school-related COVID-19 cases show that most students with respiratory symptoms do not have COVID-19, a finding made easier by introduction of simpler tests for children. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

Schools, hospitals top B.C.’s COVID-19 protection list

School transmission remains low, community high

After B.C. public health officials released the latest COVID-19 monthly data tracking the rapid increase in infections, there was a new note of urgency as they acknowledged B.C. is now facing faster coronavirus spread than Ontario.

Premier John Horgan took to social media after the latest monthly results were released this week, showing the rapid increase traced mainly to gatherings in private homes, parties and community mingling at sports events. A key concern is that the spike in November has stretched testing and contact tracing capacity to its limit, even as more people are hired and transferred to help.

“We need to maintain capacity in our health care system, keep our schools open, and ensure we can continue many other essential activities in our communities,” Horgan said on his Facebook page Nov. 13, emphasizing the limiting of adult social activities and non-essential travel ordered for B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

Data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control indicates younger people are leading in the recent surge in cases, but not school-aged people. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said results since schools opened in mid-September have guided the latest orders restricting activity in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions.

RELATED: B.C. COVID-19 spreading fastest via young adults

RELATED: B.C. records 1,100 new infections in two days

“We’ve seen transmission where people have been going to the gym, for example, and all the right measures are being taken at the gym, but they’re congregating before or after,” Henry said at a briefing for reporters at the B.C. legislature Nov. 12. “We’ve seen it in hockey arenas, we’ve seen it at some youth football games, we’ve seen it with old timers hockey leagues where the sport itself is fine, but it’s the gathering together afterwards and those are the household and community private party or events.

“The other thing this shows us is that young people, particularly school-age young people, very few transmissions or exposure events that lead to cases from schools or day cares. And we do still see in the older age group it’s related to health care, which again reflects transmission in our long term care homes.”

Henry used the example of one infected person at a fitness class, one of the activities suspended until late November in the Lower Mainland. That one exposure led to 67 cases in two fitness studios, and six school exposures where family members or people who worked at a school went there when they were potentially infectious to others. Broad precautions are taken, even if actual transmission hasn’t been detected.

As of Nov. 5, there have been 261 school exposures in B.C.’s 1,942 schools, more than three quarters of which are elementary schools.

As confirmed infections have risen to more than 500 a day province-wide, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 is showing a similar rise. Community infections have also led to senior care home outbreaks, with six more in just two days Nov. 11 and 12.

Henry said B.C. is likely dealing with the seasonal behaviour of the coronavirus, which didn’t transmit as much when temperature was warmer, humidity lower and people spent more time indoors.

“This is not unique to B.C.,” Henry said. “We’re seeing it across the country. We’re seeing it in Europe and all of the northern hemisphere, where it’s becoming much more challenging.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Part of a new housing development proposal for the former Alberni District Secondary School site. (SCREENSHOT)
Housing gap widens in Port Alberni

Vancouver Island city suffers from ‘missing middle’ to housing density

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires Vancouver Island wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

The Port Alberni Train Station is located outside the entrance to Harbour Quay, on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)
Port Alberni gets funding to restore heritage train station

Historic train station needs seismic upgrades

Raw logs are loaded onto a logging ship from a log sort down the Alberni Inlet in March 2019. SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News
Port Alberni light on industrial land

Report finds few suitable locations for new industry

Cowichan Valley writer Jennifer Manuel will headlining YakFest on March 1. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Cowichan Valley writer to headline next YakFest on March 1

YakFest is a B.C.-based monthly women’s event held online via Zoom

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

A crossover utility vehicle smashed through the front of a business on Bowen Road on Friday evening. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Vehicle smashes all the way inside business in Nanaimo

No serious injuries reported after incident at Venue Financial Centres on Friday

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

RCMP say a woman turned herself in to police after hitting a pedestrian and fleeing the scene of the accident in downtown Nanaimo on Friday morning. (File photo)
Driver flees, then turns herself in after hitting pedestrian in downtown Nanaimo

RCMP say woman was struck in marked crosswalk after driver ran red light

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Most Read