Weekly Chart Update
We received some unpleasant news in today’s public health press conference, in the last 3 days over the weekend, 1,120 new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed. Not only is this a new weekend record (by a large margin), we also saw the record for daily cases broken not once but twice! On Friday we had 352 new cases reported, overtaking the previous record of 317 (on Oct 24th), and then on Saturday, another 389 cases were reported.
Looking at the complete 7-day total now, BC has also set a weekly record with 2,130 new cases. This is a considerable jump from the previous 7-day total of 1684, with a difference of almost 450 cases.
Taking a look now at the week-to-week growth rate we see that while our numbers have jumped substantially, the growth rate has actually dropped by a large margin. At 26.5%, our new case growth rate is still a lot higher than we have been typically seeing in this wave (~7.5%-18.5%) but is less than half of the previous week’s rate.
What Do These Numbers Mean?
Besides the obvious concerns of more infections breeding more new infections later, and the risk of long term health complications in even asymptomatic cases, to the risk of death in the more serious ones, what do these numbers mean? For starters, the incredible contact tracing team that has been keeping us afloat is beginning to struggle. Public Health has been hiring new tracers as fast as they can, and recently bumped their hiring goal from 500 to 800 new contact tracers. Delays in contact tracing will result in people being quarantined or being asked to isolate, later on, leading to more opportunities for viral spread. If our contact tracers become too overwhelmed our incidences of community exposure will increase, and it could lead to a partial loss of control of transmissions. This could see our growth rate increase to the levels of spikes we’ve previously seen: ~70-85%. It would be only a matter of time before hospitalization and mortality rates begin to climb.
It falls on each of us to do what we can to prevent this from happening. Staying home as much as possible, keeping to our safe-six exclusively for socializing (and not even that in the Fraser Health Authority area). Remember to distance at all times, and to wear a mask when indoors and when you aren’t able to maintain distancing. Don’t congregate indoors. Listen to public health and follow their orders, and encourage your friends and family to do the same. We can and will get through this.
Canada’s COVID Alert App Update
Today in the Public Health news conference we received some new information on why BC is still negotiating with the Federal app team and not immediately rolling out the app that has now launched in every province except Alberta and British Columbia. Here is a breakdown of the issues mentioned today that are holding back the app from launching in BC:
- The app can let you know that you were exposed, but can not tell you when it happened
- The app can not tell you how long you were exposed, or quantify the level of risk for you
- The app can not tell you what steps Public Health would want you to take next (due to the above details being missing)
- The app deletes contacts after 14 days, which is just 1 incubation period, and by the time symptoms develop and test results are returned, the app may no longer reach all exposed parties (this was mentioned previously by Dr. Bonnie Henry and included for completeness’ sake)
BC Public Health is continuing to work with the federal app team to try to resolve these issues, but until they are confident the app will not lead to confusion or added difficulties for the contact tracing teams, it is unlikely that we will see it launch in BC.
That’s all for now, stay safe everyone!