B.C. school-related COVID-19 cases show that most students with respiratory symptoms do not have COVID-19, a finding made easier by introduction of simpler tests for children. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

B.C. school-related COVID-19 cases show that most students with respiratory symptoms do not have COVID-19, a finding made easier by introduction of simpler tests for children. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

Schools, hospitals top B.C.’s COVID-19 protection list

School transmission remains low, community high

After B.C. public health officials released the latest COVID-19 monthly data tracking the rapid increase in infections, there was a new note of urgency as they acknowledged B.C. is now facing faster coronavirus spread than Ontario.

Premier John Horgan took to social media after the latest monthly results were released this week, showing the rapid increase traced mainly to gatherings in private homes, parties and community mingling at sports events. A key concern is that the spike in November has stretched testing and contact tracing capacity to its limit, even as more people are hired and transferred to help.

“We need to maintain capacity in our health care system, keep our schools open, and ensure we can continue many other essential activities in our communities,” Horgan said on his Facebook page Nov. 13, emphasizing the limiting of adult social activities and non-essential travel ordered for B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

Data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control indicates younger people are leading in the recent surge in cases, but not school-aged people. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said results since schools opened in mid-September have guided the latest orders restricting activity in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions.

RELATED: B.C. COVID-19 spreading fastest via young adults

RELATED: B.C. records 1,100 new infections in two days

“We’ve seen transmission where people have been going to the gym, for example, and all the right measures are being taken at the gym, but they’re congregating before or after,” Henry said at a briefing for reporters at the B.C. legislature Nov. 12. “We’ve seen it in hockey arenas, we’ve seen it at some youth football games, we’ve seen it with old timers hockey leagues where the sport itself is fine, but it’s the gathering together afterwards and those are the household and community private party or events.

“The other thing this shows us is that young people, particularly school-age young people, very few transmissions or exposure events that lead to cases from schools or day cares. And we do still see in the older age group it’s related to health care, which again reflects transmission in our long term care homes.”

Henry used the example of one infected person at a fitness class, one of the activities suspended until late November in the Lower Mainland. That one exposure led to 67 cases in two fitness studios, and six school exposures where family members or people who worked at a school went there when they were potentially infectious to others. Broad precautions are taken, even if actual transmission hasn’t been detected.

As of Nov. 5, there have been 261 school exposures in B.C.’s 1,942 schools, more than three quarters of which are elementary schools.

As confirmed infections have risen to more than 500 a day province-wide, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 is showing a similar rise. Community infections have also led to senior care home outbreaks, with six more in just two days Nov. 11 and 12.

Henry said B.C. is likely dealing with the seasonal behaviour of the coronavirus, which didn’t transmit as much when temperature was warmer, humidity lower and people spent more time indoors.

“This is not unique to B.C.,” Henry said. “We’re seeing it across the country. We’re seeing it in Europe and all of the northern hemisphere, where it’s becoming much more challenging.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Photo submitted
Nesika students donate 2,000 pounds of fresh produce back into community

“Fresh to You” is a fundraising initiative for schools

Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison venture into the Sierra Nevada backcountry for some outlandish ski touring above 14,000 feet. (Christian Pondella photo)
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour goes virtual in lakecity

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is back, despite the global, novel coronavirus pandemic

A convoy of vehicles passes through Heckman Pass on Highway 20 as cleanup operations continued Saturday. Dawson Road Maintenance is asking motorists to watch for crews and equipment working throughout the area. (Dawson Road Maintenance photo/Facebook)
Highway 20 reopens between Anahim Lake and Bella Coola after winter storm Friday

“We appreciate your patience as we continue to clear wood debris and widen sections of the road.”

A memorandum agreement is being signed with between the City of Williams Lake and the Cariboo Friendship Society for the Longhouse at the Stampede Grounds to be used as temporary emergency shelter if needed. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Most Read