COVID-19 Diary – Day 374

Weekly New Infections Charts

Every Monday we take a look at our week-to-week totals and chart how BC’s fight against COVID-19 is progressing. Because of the reporting schedule used in BC, we use 7-day totals running from Tuesday to Monday. The above chart shows each week of the pandemic as a unique bar.

As you can see from the above chart, in the last Tues-Mon 7 day period there has been another increase in new cases compared to the previous 7-day period. This is the sixth week in a row we have seen this happen, despite ongoing enhanced restrictions. The longest streak of increases we’ve seen in a row previously was 9, which took place between late September and late November of last year. This is also the most new cases we’ve seen reported in a 7-day period so far this year.

Of the 4198 new cases reported this week, 486 or 11.6% of them were determined to be variants of concern. In the above chart, you can see the cases broken down by different variant types. Currently, the most common variant of concern spreading in BC is the B.1.1.7 type, which is associated with increased transmission rates and a higher mortality rate.

Due to an issue in BC’s case reporting system, the 7-day period of Feb 26-Mar 1 contains 68 additional cases that shouldn’t be included. Unfortunately, we do not know how many were allocated to which health authorities, so we can not remove them manually. This problem only affects the breakdown graphs (here and the one below).

To better understand how the provincial numbers break down, we also look at the individual health authority regions.

The Fraser Health region has now seen 7 straight weeks of new case number growth, week to week. This streak is now tied with the previous record of 7, which occurred between October and November last year. The Vancouver Coastal Health region has also seen increased new case growth, compared to the previous week.

Cases from outside of Canada began being reported during the week of Jul 7-13, and the initial spike of 51 cases reflects the data catching up. Due to an issue in BC’s case reporting system, the 7-day period of Feb 26-Mar 1 contains 68 additional cases that shouldn’t be included. Unfortunately, we do not know how many were allocated to which health authorities, so we can not remove them manually. This problem only affects the breakdown graphs (here and the one above).

It’s hard to tell due to lines overlapping in some areas, but the Vancouver Island Health region just barely overtook the Interior Health region for new cases reported in the previous 7 days. The Interior Health region is also the only health region to report a decrease in new cases in the past week.

Some data points have had to been estimated by averaging values, specifically Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays without specific reporting figures.

There are currently 5290 known active cases of COVID-19 in BC. This number represents an increase of about 300 active cases from this time last week. The number of active cases has been on a slow steady increase for several weeks now and currently sits at the highest number we’ve seen since January 10 this year.

Unfortunately, today we also learned of another significant jump in active cases of COVID-19 Variants of Concern (VOCs). As of today, there are 237 known active cases of different COVID-19 VOCs. Most of these are known to be B.1.1.7, but a growing number are also the P.1 variety.

We currently have known active cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant, as well as the P.1 (Brazil) variant.

Week-to-Week Growth Rate

This graph tracks the growth rate between 7-day totals and is a good indicator of the overall momentum of new case numbers.

Our growth rate had been hovering just over the 0% line for a couple months, but today we can report that we have broken the 10% growth line. Our growth rate has not been this high since the first few days of the new year. With the variant cases currently spreading, we all must do everything we can to bring this number down as quickly as possible.

Dr. Bonnie Henry mentioned in her briefing today that most new cases are among the 20-40 year old demographic. Unfortunately, for most people in this age range, a vaccination appointment is still weeks to months away, depending on their health or type of employment. So we must all do our best just a little bit longer!

Hospitalizations & Deaths

Currently, there are 303 people in BC hospitalized with COVID-19, and 80 of those are confined to the ICU. These numbers are beginning to rise much quicker than we have seen them move since last year. Dr. Bonnie Henry also mentioned that more young people are being hospitalized now than we have seen previously. Unfortunately, the age demographic data for hospitalized patients has not been updated for several weeks, so we can not get a more specific view of how it compares at this time.

In the last 7 days, another 30 people in BC have died from COVID-19. This is almost twice the number of deaths we saw during the previous 7-day window and is a massive increase overall. However, it is also much more in line with the numbers we were seeing for almost a month before a substantial drop. Hopefully, we will see a return to smaller numbers in a week.

And as always, we are sending our support and sympathy to all those who have experienced loss during this pandemic. Our thoughts are with you.

Vaccination Roll-Out

Numbers over holidays and weekends have been estimated based on averages between known reported totals.
Individual days may be +/- but the totals per week are accurate.

Since the beginning of our vaccination program on December 15th, there have been a combined 539,408 COVID-19 vaccinations in our province, with 87,161 of these being a person’s second dose. As you can see from the above graph, second doses have completely flattened out now that the province is waiting 16 weeks between them.

As of today, 452,247 individuals have received at least 1 dose of vaccine, representing about 10.5% of BC’s population old enough to be eligible for the shots. This means roughly 3% of the eligible population of BC received their first shot in the last 7 days.

The above chart shows the average number of vaccinations for each 7-day period since the beginning of the vaccination program. As you can see in the last 7 days the daily average number of vaccinations has jumped massively, nearly doubling the previous week’s average! To put this into perspective, it means that almost 1/3rd of all the shots given out over the entire vaccination program were given out in the last 7 days. Referring to this as a “new record” would be under-selling the achievement.

Vaccination Roll-out Update

With the start of this week, we have now entered Phase III of BC’s Immunization Plan (sort of). Vaccinations are still on-going for people over the age of 80, but booking is now starting to occur for those aged 75+ (see above for the specific timeline).

In addition to the above, people who are clinically extremely vulnerable are also now receiving vaccinations through Public Health clinics. Community health nurses receive allocations of vaccines, and then go through their health files and determine on a case by case basis who is most at risk and in need of being vaccinated early. This isn’t generally something you can “sign up” for, however.

Finally, front-line workers are now being prioritized for the AstraZeneca vaccine, which will be rolling out en-masse in the coming weeks. Here is a list of which areas will be generally prioritized, to begin with:

  • First responders (police, firefighters, emergency transport)
  • K to 12 educational staff
  • Child care staff
  • Grocery store workers
  • Postal workers
  • Bylaw and quarantine officers
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Wholesale/warehousing employees
  • Staff living in congregate housing at places like ski hills
  • Correctional facilities staff
  • Cross-border transport staff
  • Sectors or settings prioritized due to outbreak response

If you work in one of the above fields, do not call in to book a vaccination appointment. All appointments will be coordinated through BC Public Health and your employer.

More information about the vaccine roll-out plan can be found here.

That’s all for now, stay safe everyone!

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