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

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Overlooking Ucluelet’s Main Street shopping district, Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce executive director Laurie Filgiano cozies up with ‘Snowy’, the beloved decorating contest trophy. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet’s Midnight Madness shopping spree gets a stiff shot of madness this weekend

“As a community, I think we will come out of this stronger.”

Josie Osborne was sworn into the Legislature virtually on Nov. 24. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Josie Osborne named minister of municipal affairs

The position was previously held by Selina Robinson, who is the province’s new finance minister

A sign at the entrance to Ty-Histanis asks visitors to stay out of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Westerly file photo)
Leaders from Tofino-Ucluelet region urge tourists to stay away for two weeks

The West Coast is pausing its winter tourist season temporarily due to rising COVID-19 numbers

This large Spruce was one of several trees that came crashing down around CARE’s animal shelter during Nov. 17’s windstorm. (CARE Network photo)
Funding and fosters needed after storm destroys fencing at Tofino-Ucluelet animal shelter

The damage forced an evacuation of the facility, which was sheltering five animals at the time.

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

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

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

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
MP to host expert panel for virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MacGregor’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

Lake Cowichan’s Oliver Finlayson, second from left, and his family — including grandma Marnie Mattice, sister Avery, mom Amie Mattice and dad Blair Finlayson — were all smiles on Nov. 16 when their pool arrived, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Lake community comes together to help family get vital pool

Oliver Finlayson, 9, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and hydrotherapy is a big help

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

Most Read