COVID-19 Diary – Day 381

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 a major increase in new cases compared to previous weeks. This is now the seventh week in a row we have seen increased cases. This last week also set a new record for the most new cases reported in a 7-day timespan here in BC, since the start of the pandemic. Previously Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed that we had entered our third wave of COVID-19, and with these numbers there can be little doubt that she is correct.

Of the 5624 new cases reported this week, 730 or 13.0% of them were determined to be variants of concern., 1.4% increase compared to the previous week. 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 8 straight weeks of new case number growth, week to week. This is now the longest running streak of increased numbers that this health authority has experienced.

However, The biggest increase in numbers was reported by the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which saw a 69.2% increase in new reported cases compared to last week, nearly doubling it’s previous 7-day total.

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). During the week of Mar 23-29, the Interior Health region’s numbers were bumped up an additional 36 cases due to an error where historical cases from 2020 were previously missed.

Similar to the Vancouver Coastal Health region, The Interior Health region also saw an increase in new case 7-day totals, by 69%, even after taking into consideration the fact that 36 of their reported cases were historical from 2020 that had been missed. Even the Vancouver Island Health region saw a major increase in new cases.

The only health region to not see an increase in 7-day new case totals this week was the Northern Health region, which continues to see their number keep relatively steady.

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

There are currently 6,902 known active cases of COVID-19 in BC. This number represents an increase of about 1600 active cases from this time last week. The number of active cases had previously been slowly increasing over time, but is now spiking much higher. We haven’t seen this many active cases of COVID-19 since late last year.

With the massive spike in new cases, it’s not surprising to see that variant-of-concern (VOC) cases are also on the rise. There are now 413 known active VOC cases in BC. Most of these are known to be B.1.1.7, but a growing number are also the P.1 variety.

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.

There is no way to put this gently. Our week-to-week growth rate has spiked to 34.0%. This is far from the worst growth rate we’ve seen during the pandemic, but usually our weekly new case numbers were starting much lower in those situations. The only good news in this situation is that we have not seen major growth spikes like this immediately followed with another growth spike. If this pattern holds true, we may be able to bend this curve back again before it becomes more deadly.

In her briefing today, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced increased restrictions, and officially shut down all in-doors dining at restaurants, bars and pubs, until at least April 19th at midnight. The full list of restrictions can be found here.

Hospitalizations & Deaths

Currently, there are 299 people in BC hospitalized with COVID-19, and 79 of those are confined to the ICU. These numbers may be leveling out again but it’s too early to say for sure.

In the last 7 days, another 18 people in BC have died from COVID-19. While this number is still way too high, it is reassuring to see that it is almost half that of the 7-day total reported this time last week. With cases so significantly on the rise, one has to wonder how long these numbers will remain this low, but for the moment at least we can be thankful.

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 699,092 COVID-19 vaccinations in our province, with 87,289 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, 611,803 individuals have received at least 1 dose of vaccine, representing about 14.2% of BC’s population old enough to be eligible for the shots. This means roughly 3.7% 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 once again increased quite significantly, by almost 4200 vaccinations per day!

Vaccination Roll-out Update

Starting today anyone 73 years old or older may call to book their appointment for a vaccination. The aged based vaccination roll-out has been outperforming its timeline expectations for several weeks now, and it’s getting hard to keep up with all the revisions as they let younger and younger seniors book appointments sooner than expected. Of course nobody is complaining that things are happening sooner than promised.

Today BC paused the roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine (for people under the age of 55) at the recommendation of federal health officials. This pause is expected to only last a few days, and is related to extremely rare blood clotting issues that may be associated with this specific vaccine. It is expected that the roll-out will re-start shortly, possibly with a new symptom warning associated. Such a warning would also guarantee the availability of treatment for the issue at the vaccination centre, should it arise after a patient receives their dose.

It should also be noted that the AstraZeneca vaccine is being used exclusively for the front-line worker vaccination program, and this delay will not directly affect the age-based vaccination program. The only exception is that Surrey school staff will now be receiving Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations until the AstraZeneca vaccine becomes available again.

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

That’s all for now, stay safe everyone!

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