The latest epidemiological modelling released by the Ministry of Health offers evidence of some more troubling trends with the second wave of B.C.’s COVID-19 pandemic, after the province set new records in daily cases and hospitalizations this week.
Dynamic modelling shows that new coronavirus cases per day are doubling every 13 days over the past few weeks across the province.
While the majority of this transmission is taking place in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions, the rest of B.C. is not yet out of the woods, as more and more clusters and outbreaks are detected in other health authorities each week.
Over the past week, the province has tested over 917,000 people for COVID-19, out of which nearly 21,000 people tested positive and another 3,476 people are presumed positive or epidemiologically-linked cases.
This brings B.C.’s test positivity rate to 5.4 per cent in the past week.
The province has now surpassed Ontario, and has more daily cases per 1 million people than there are in Ontario.
See also: 1,130 new COVID-19 cases, four more deaths in B.C. since Tuesday, 16 in Island Health
The virus’ reproductive rate in B.C. — or an average of how many people each infected person transmits the virus to — is still hovering well above one. This means that on average, each infected person is spreading the virus to more than one other person.
According to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, a reproductive rate or R0 (R-naught) number above one means there is “potential for it to spread quite rapidly”.
She added that cases began to rise quickly just after Thanksgiving.
Hospitalizations across the province have now surpassed the highest numbers reached at the height of the first wave of the pandemic in B.C., and there are now 155 people hospitalized with COVID-19.
During question period, Henry expressed that the record-breaking numbers in daily cases and hospitalizations over the past two days have made her slightly anxious.
However she expects that improvements and reductions in the number of COVID-19 cases per day should be on the horizon, starting next week, as a result of restrictions on household gatherings that went into effect on October 26.
See also: New Dr. Henry health order restricts household gatherings to ‘safe six’ in B.C.
Henry pointed out that a vaccine is on its way next year and will eventually be available to everyone, but added that before we get to that point, “we need to stand together by staying apart.”
To better illustrate how just one person infected with COVID-19 could impact hundreds of others, the Ministry released helpful infographics related to gatherings at workplaces, events like weddings, and fitness studios.
These charts were initially published by the Fraser Health region, and were created based on actual case data: