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B.C. marks worrisome spike in new COVID-19 cases

There have been 102 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on COVID-19 in B.C. on July 20. Screenshot.

B.C. has seen a worrisome uptick in new COVID-19 cases in recent days, prompting provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to warn that “we do risk a rebound.”

B.C. had 51 cases confirmed in a single day, between Friday and Saturday, and 102 between Friday and Monday.

“We have not had a hundred cases in a single time period (before),” Henry said. “This is worrying to us.

"We are starting to see an upward bend of our curve," Henry said. "What this shows is that we do have a possibility of having explosive growth in our outbreak here in B.C. if we're not careful in how we progress over the summer."

However, she added: "We still have it in our hands to make a difference of bending this curve."

Public health officials want to keep the virus' reproduction numbers—the R function—down to one. That means only one other person gets infected. But in B.C. that number has started to rise above one, Henry said.

"That is concerning," she said. "That's the level, that one, is where we can stop the outbreak. So we are at a place where we could see rapid progression of this virus, if we're not careful."

On a positive note, there have been no new deaths to report, and there is only one long-term care home with active cases. There were as many as two dozen long-term care homes with infection earlier this year.

Many of the new cases are among people in their 20s and 30s, and are related to social events and parties in the Kelowna area. Most worrisome, said Henry, is the fact that in some cases, those who tested positive would have had contact with a relatively large number of people.

Henry sketched out some findings of a recent epidemiological study that shows the fatality rate in B.C. is quite high—2.6%. That is no doubt related to the fact that the virus was most concentrated initially in long-term care homes. One in five people in long-term care homes have died from the virus, Henry said.

Henry added alerts have been issued for anyone who has flown recently in or out of Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna. She said anyone who has flown recently in or out of B.C. should check the BC Centre for Disease Control for bulletins.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers for Monday, July 20, with numbers from Friday July 17, the last reporting period, in brackets:

New cases:  102 (28)

Total:  3,300 (3,198)

Active cases: 253 (207)

Recovered: 2,858 (2,802)

Hospitalized: 16 (18)

Intensive care: 4 (2)

Deaths:  189  (189)

Confirmed cases by region:

Vancouver Coastal Health: 1,042

Fraser Health: 1,713

Island Health: 142

Interior Health: 280

Northern Health: 69


This story originally appeared in Business in Vancouver on July 20.