BC's coronavirus cases show "disproportionate increase in young adults": Henry

Aug 13 2020, 4:23 pm

COVID-19 cases in British Columbia are on a concerning upward trajectory, according to health officials.

On Thursday afternoon, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix presented the latest round of epidemiological modelling. This update marks the first round of new information since late July.

Henry spoke in-depth about the spike in cases and the “disproportionate increase in young adults.”

“We’ve started to see a rapid increase over the last few weeks in younger people,” she told reporters. “That’s reflected in some of the numbers that we’re seeing as well as the discussion we’ve had over the last few weeks of exposure events, particularly social events, parties, get-togethers.”

Henry says that it’s during these kinds of gatherings where “younger people are coming together and the virus is being spread.”

Data from the province displayed a shift in cases towards a younger age group as well. Since the start of July, there’s been a spike among the 20- to 29-year-old age group as well as the 30- to 39-year-old age group.

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The dark pink line represents the spike in cases among 20 to 29-year-olds. (Gov BC)

Henry noted that when the pandemic first began, the distribution of cases showed a “preponderance of older people,” which reflected the outbreaks occurring in care homes.

“Between June and August 8 we’ve seen a much broader increase, particularly people in their 20s and 30s,” she stressed. “This is related to the social events.”

gov bc

A bar graph that, similarly, displays the shift in cases to young adults. (Gov BC)

When talking about the “disproportionate increase in cases,” Henry explained that while British Columbians between the age of 20 and 29 make up 13% of the population, they account for 17% of cases.

Similarly, those between 30 and 39 years of age account for 14% of the population but makeup 18% of known cases.

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A chart giving a breakdown of coronavirus cases by age, compared to BC’s general population. (Gov BC)

Fortunately, health officials say that most people are being connected to “local cases and clusters,” which is the primary focus of contact tracing. Cases are still being introduced through international travel (such as temporary foreign workers) and Canadians returning to Canada, but the work surrounding contact tracing has been mostly successful.

Laboratory testing is also said to be in good condition, with health officials looking to build out and expand testing as BC enters the fall.

The focus now, according to Henry, falls on bending the curve back down while we still can.

Data from the provincial government shows that BC is above the threshold for new infections per case. Henry says that preferably, the province wants to have one or fewer infections for every new case, which would show that BC is “opening as much as it can without putting things at risk.”

Dynamic compartmental modelling that shows the number of new infections per case. (Gov BC)

She also said that dynamic modelling is showing an “upward trajectory” and although it’s “concerning,” it’s “not a predictive model.”

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Modelling predictions suggest that cases could continue to increase moving into September. (Gov BC)

“It doesn’t tell us what’s going to happen, it tells us what can happen,” Henry stressed. “Right now, we have it in our ability to make the changes we need to bend that curve back down.”

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