British Columbia is teetering on the edge of a serious surge in COVID-19 infections, but there is still time to reverse a worrying trend, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry warned Thursday.
Another 89 cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in B.C. in the last 24 hours, and one more resident of a long-term care home has died.
Henry said a total of 6,041 people in B.C. have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, including 1,175 cases of infection that are currently active. A total of 210 people have died from the disease.
New modelling presented on Thursday confirms a “substantial increase” in the number of new cases confirmed in B.C., Henry said, and the curve of infection continues to trend upward, putting everyone in a risky position.
“We’re at that precipice … but we have it within our hands to bend that curve back down,” she said.
As of Thursday, there were 34 patients in hospital with COVID-19, including 11 in intensive care. There have been two new outbreaks in long-term care facilities, bringing the total number of active outbreaks in the health-care system to 11.
B.C. continues to expand its testing capacity, with 28,025 tests completed in the last week alone.
Henry said rates of transmission remain low in most parts of the province, and she believes it’s still possible to reflatten the curve of infection if everyone recommits to preventing transmission.
“We are trying to maintain a fine balance, but we are on an edge,” she said.
Right now, British Columbians are maintaining an average of about 65 per cent of their regular, pre-pandemic connections. Bringing that back down to about 50 per cent could bend the curve back down.
Watch | Dr. Bonnie Henry explains how to reduce transmission of the virus to “bend our curve back down”:
“The fewer people, the better,” says Dr. Bonnie Henry. 2:20
Henry said the key is to avoid high-risk activities, particularly spending time with people you don’t know without precautions like physical distancing and wearing a mask. Close face-to-face contact with people outside your bubble should be avoided whenever possible, she said.
Young people continue to drive surge in numbers
The modelling shows that a spike in infections in younger people has driven down the median age of those who have fallen sick from COVID-19 to 41 years of age.
The source of infection appears to vary widely among the different age groups.
Children under the age of 10 are most likely to be infected at home, seniors over the age of 80 are most likely to be exposed in health-care settings, and a large chunk of cases in people between the ages of 20 and 50 are being infected at private parties, in restaurants or at work.
The latest update comes as parents and families across the province are preparing to send students back to school.
Tap on the chart to see more modelling from provincial health officials
Education Minister Rob Fleming said Thursday that the $242 million in federal funding earmarked for reopening B.C. schools will be given to school districts to spend based on their needs over the coming months.