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

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Terrace RCMP are searching for Kenton David Fast, who is unlawfully at large. (Terrace RCMP Photo)
Terrace RCMP searching for man unlawfully at large

Kenton David Fast was last seen in Terrace on Dec. 1, 2020

Traffic controllers Hayley Stevens (left) and Hector Blackwater (right) have been recognized by drivers for their friendly waves, smiles and dance moves while working south of Terrace. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
Skeena Voices | Positivity is just part of being a flagger

Hector Blackwater and Hayley Stevens have been drawing attention on social media

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross has been named critic for Environment and Climate Change Strategy for the BC Liberals. (Peter Versteege photo)
Skeena MLA Ellis Ross named critic for Environment and Climate Change Strategy

Previously, Ross was the critic for LNG, Resource Opportunities, and Responsible Development

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Business groups have been advocating for years that local approvals for construction in B.C. are too long and restricted, and that B.C.’s outdates sales tax deter business investment. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents worried about COVID-19 deficit, business survey finds

Respondents support faster local approvals, value added tax

Most Read