BC's COVID-19 transmission trending down for first time in months

Jun 10 2021, 4:00 pm

British Columbia’s latest epidemiological modelling shows that transmission of the COVID-19 virus is trending downwards for the first time in many, many months.

This was one of the key messages shared by health officials in British Columbia on Thursday afternoon.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix explained that in most areas of the province, there have been “little to no cases in many communities.” However, some transmissions remain in the Lower Mainland, as well as some hotspots in the north.

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COVID-19 cases by local health area over the past seven days (BC Gov).

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Dot plots which show hotspots in local health areas (BC Gov).

When looking at a dot plot, which is used by health officials to identify hotspots, officials say that there are still high areas and case counts in areas such as Surrey.

The good news, Henry noted, was that, even in those high-transmission areas, case counts have decreased by over 50% in the last two weeks.

“What we can see, quite happily, is starting in the middle of April, we have a dramatic drop in cases overall,” she said. “Shortly thereafter, we start to see a decrease in hospitalization that continues.”

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Daily cases, hospitalizations, and deaths (BC Gov).

She went on to say that deaths remained low throughout the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, owing to an immunization program that immediately targeted those who were most vulnerable, such as seniors and the elderly.

When looking at COVID-19 case counts by age, Henry pointed out that all age groups have had a “dramatic decrease” in case counts and transmission. Not unexpectedly, the decrease for each age group started shortly after they became eligible to receive immunization.

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A seven-day moving average of COVID-19 daily case counts between January 2020 and June 2021 (BC Gov).

As for COVID-19 cases amongst school-aged children, transmission remains low. In many cases, data shows that the proportion of cases in younger age groups is less than that of the population they represent.

One of the most positive takeaways from Thursday’s announcement was that, for the first time in a number of months, the transmission of the COVID-19 virus is noticeably decreasing.

“For the first time in many, many months, we are trending downwards,” Henry said.

Henry explained this while sharing BC’s latest dynamic compartmental modelling charts. When the reproductive number or RT is lower than one, it means that a person infected with COVID-19 typically spreads it to less than one other person.

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BC’s most recent dynamic compartmental modelling (BC Gov).

Dynamic compartmental modelling also suggested that the province could handle an increased amount of contact and even a slightly higher amount of transmission.

“What we are seeing is that yes, even with increased contact, as much as 80% over the next few weeks, we’ll see cases arise,” Henry explained.

She added that even then, cases “will not be widely transmitted in the communities as we had seen before.”

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Dynamic compartmental modelling displaying virus transmission at different contact rates (BC Gov).

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