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

Mission Mayor Pam Alexis to run for the NDP

Will take on Liberal Simon Gibson in the Abbotsford-Mission riding

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

MEDICAL MOMENTS: Dr. Andrew Edelson has served Mission for more than 45 years

Why Mission? ‘Mostly because it’s such a wonderful community,’ he says

BC launches 22 new primary care networks, including one in Mission

Will be adding family physicians, a nurse practitioner and a social worker

Missing Chilliwack woman last seen on Wednesday

Friends and family concerned for Joy-Lynn Leon, 42, who was last seen Sept. 23 on Mary Street

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

VIDEO: COVID won’t dampen Lower Mainland woman’s Halloween spirit

Langley’s Tanya Reid posted video offering suggestions of how trick-or-treating might look for her

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Father hopes journey to aviation-safety program inspires hope

Former South Surrey resident Greg Sewell hasn’t given up on quest to mandate older-plane retrofits

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read