A technical briefing held by the B.C. Ministry of Health on Tuesday shows that after starting to reopen the economy, the province could now enter a period of resurgence in COVID-19 transmission.
According to modelling data released today, the rate of contact between individuals in the province is currently at roughly 65 per cent of normal.
Dynamic modelling of COVID-19 transmission shows that there is a dramatic difference between the levels of transmission when contact rates are kept relatively low at 50 per cent versus at 70 per cent.
“Our models suggests that contact rates since mid-May are roughly 65 per cent of normal, which is roughly the threshold for a rebound in new cases,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry at a technical briefing for members of the media.
The good news is that increased contacts have not led to a dramatic increase in hospitalizations or deaths, but there has been a slight uptick in the number of new cases per day over the past few days.
“If we go too far too quickly without having safe interactions and contacts, we could see a rapid rebound in new cases and that of course is what we’re trying to prevent,” added Dr. Henry.
She reiterated the importance of maintaining physical distancing, self-isolation for those who feel sick, and a continued focus on hygiene measures, while also balancing renewed but careful contact with friends and family.
Back in March, the number of contacts for one person was around 11; this number has now dropped to three, making it easier for public health officials to trace virus transmission.
The R0 number, or the number of people the virus is passed onto after one person has tested positive, has also decreased.
“It’s hovered around 1 which is what we want to do. That means the most I pass it on to is one other person. Below one means that most people don’t pass it on to anybody else,” explains Henry.
Tuesday’s technical update also included more snapshots of what the province’s COVID-19 transmission and death curves look like when compared to other provinces and countries.
According to the information released today, most cases over the past few weeks have had an identifiable source.
Some cases are still related to international travel, brought in by people being repatriated from India, or workers coming to B.C. from Mexico.
All of these patients displayed symptoms of the virus while in quarantine and did not cause transmission or outbreaks in the community.