B.C.’s efforts to flatten the COVID-19 pandemic curve continue to be successful, but the restrictions are having a significant effect on residents as they drag on into the summer.
Those are among the findings of the health ministry’s survey of nearly 400,000 people, and the latest modelling from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix released the modelling results and survey data July 20, showing that the summer reopening of the economy has led to only a few additional confirmed coronavirus infections in June and early July. They warn that the small number of cases so far makes it difficult to project how the rest of the summer will unfold, as travel picks up around the province and from outside it.
The case numbers show that community COVID-19 infection rates have stayed below one per cent, and antibody testing shows less than one per cent of the population has been exposed. As with other regions, the BCCDC estimates that the actual number of infections is about eight times the reported cases.
— Tom Fletcher (@tomfletcherbc) July 20, 2020
Henry said public health officials expected to see increased cases, but the risk for B.C. now is that clusters of infection are showing up after gatherings in restaurants, bars, house parties and houseboats.
“It might be a small group one night and a different small group the next time, and those are the environments where this virus can be passed on,” Henry said, adding B.C. still does have “the possibility of explosive growth unless we’re careful.”
The most recent case results are a concern, with 102 positive tests recorded from July 17-20, Henry said.
The survey reflects the employment impacts measured so far, as B.C. families with children report a greater mental health and economic burden than the broader population. B.C. residents aged 18 to 29 also report greater mental health and economic effects, as they face the highest unemployment rate.
The survey finds that four out of five B.C. residents approve of the province’s response to the pandemic, with 96 per cent reporting they practice preventive personal hygiene such as hand washing and physical distance.