Shoppers are separated by rows of wood pallets to help with physical distancing as they line up to enter a Costco store in Burnaby, B.C., on Sunday, April 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Shoppers are separated by rows of wood pallets to help with physical distancing as they line up to enter a Costco store in Burnaby, B.C., on Sunday, April 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Officials say B.C. could eventually double interactions without causing new COVID-19 surge

Interactions could grow from 30 per cent to 60 per cent of normal

As other provinces began to reopen Monday, B.C. released modelling on how it sees the fight against the COVID-19 going.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix outlined the scenarios that await British Columbians this summer depending on how measures are relaxed, as well as which groups have been the hardest-hit.

“Most of the people who’ve affected have been between the ages of 30 and 60,” Henry said. In total, 57 per cent of COVID-19 cases have been people 50 and over.

More women have tested positive for the virus than men, but although men make up 45 per cent of cases, they make up a disproportionate amount – 72 per cent – of deaths.

People with at least one underlying condition make up 38 per cent of cases, 66 per cent of hospitalizations and 84 per cent of deaths.

Henry went over how the pandemic progressed in B.C., noting an uptick in March as the incubation period from earlier infections ran its course. The province’s case and death rates remained well below the rest of Canada, as well as harder hit countries like Italy, Spain and the U.S.

READ MORE: B.C. records 170 ‘excess deaths’ so far during COVID-19 pandemic

Broadening our ‘pandemic bubbles’

As B.C. begins to reopen and increase contacts between people, Henry said there is a “manageable” level to strive for that would be above the current 30 per cent. Graphs released by the provincial government show that keeping interactions at 60 per cent or below would allow the healthcare system to keep up with demand.

But Henry said that going up to 80 per cent of usual contacts “means that the virus will be able to increase exponentially,” leading to resurgence in cases.

“Our challenge is to find that sweet spots… somewhere around increasing our contacts to twice as many as we have now but without allowing those opportunities for rapid, exponential growth of the virus,” she said.

“When you invite one person outside your immediate household bubble into your home, you’re also inviting all of the people… they’ve had contact with.”

B.C. government figures show the number of patients needing critical care due to COVID-19 could stay fairly flat at 60 per cent of our usual contacts. (B.C. government)

Henry acknowledged that keeping the status quo isn’t an option for the longterm.

“We know that our mental health, our economic health, affects our overall health and our population, as well,” she said.

“It is important for us to have connections both with our households… and our more extended families.”

READ MORE: B.C. records three new COVID-19 deaths in longterm care over past 48 hours

Henry said the focus is to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall, when it would coincide with influenza season in the fall.

“That is something we need to plan for,” she said.

She said physical barriers at stores, arrows showing which way people can walk down the aisles and making sure sick people are not penalized for missing work and school will be key in stopping the virus’s spread.

“Practicing good hygiene, avoiding touching our face, coughing into our sleeve, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces… those are all things that need to stay the same.”

Gatherings of 50 or more people, which are currently forbidden, will likely remain banned. Henry said that means large parades, events, weddings with many guests and a buffet will remain off the table.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Bhagwan Mayer. (Photo submitted)
Organizer of transporting the World’s Largest Hockey Stick to Cowichan remembered

Bhagwan Mayer a “hard-working fellow who cared about his community.”

Paula Foot narrates a collection of stories to appeal to the imaginations of the young and young at heart with a new album​ ‘Moments with Miss Paula: Stories for Fall and Winter’. (Submitted)
New album of stories from Cowichan storyteller offers children a world of magic

The stories will appeal to six-, seven-, and eight-year-olds

The VIJHL's Kerry Park Islanders' games have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
Isles victorious before league shutdown

The Kerry Park Islanders were able to sneak in one last game… Continue reading

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

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

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.”

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

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

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Most Read