Dr. Bonnie Henry says BC could be in store for explosive growth in new coronavirus cases if residents aren’t careful.
Her words of caution came as she announced there were 102 new cases discovered over the weekend, an uptick that’s troubling for BC’s top doctor.
“We do have a possibility of having explosive growth in our outbreak here in BC if we are not careful in how we progress over the summer,” she said. “We’re now on an edge that might go up but is in our hands to control.”
Henry also delivered updated epidemiological data Monday which indicates the newest coronavirus patients are having more contacts than in previous months.
At the beginning of the pandemic many patients had 11 to 12 contacts each. That number decreased as people stayed home during coronavirus-related restrictions, but the latest patients now are seeing more people while they’re contagious.
“It’s parties, house boats, private homes … If you have a small group one night and a different small group the next night, those are the situations where we can pass this virus on,” Henry said.
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BC’s reproductive number, which refers to the number of people each coronavirus patient gives the virus to, has risen above one, which also concerns Henry. With a number at one or below, she believes outbreaks can be contained. But when the number rises above one, it sets the stage for rapid transmission in the population, she said.
She also reiterated that the coronavirus is not the flu. The latest data suggests BC’s case fatality rate from coronavirus is 2.6% — higher than seasonal influenza. The virus is much deadlier for people in long-term care. Residents in BC’s nursing homes have a one in five chance of dying from the virus if they catch it.
“We are at a turning point. Right now we see concerning upward trends in infection rate, in reproduction rate,” Henry said. “If we increase our social interactions too much without doing it safely, we do risk a rebound that will impact us all.”