BC. Prepares to Relax COVID-19 Restrictions in May

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BC. could ease some COVID-19 restrictions next month if active cases and hospitalizations continue to drop, according to new projections.

Provincial health worker Dr. Bonnie Henry made the announcement Friday morning after the release of statistics showing British Columbia. has so far succeeded in reducing the number of cases and avoided overburdening the health system.

“We flattened this curve,” said Henry.

Activities that could return in a few weeks include elective surgeries. Other changes would help reactivate sectors of the economy that do not depend on large gatherings of people.

Some school activities may resume, but no decision has been made as to whether this will happen before the end of the school year.

“I think this summer we will have a lot more social opportunities … but we are not there yet. So I ask for patience, ”said Henry.

However, Henry warned that significant restrictions would still be in place for some time – probably until a vaccine was developed for the virus – and that British Columbia’s continued success in avoiding a major epidemic would continue to rely on public health measures rather than to develop. collective immunity.

“We will develop a thoughtful, evidence-based plan to move forward,” said Henry.

“It is essential for everyone in British Columbia to maintain what we have done … [but] it may be, perhaps, the end of the beginning. ”

New modeling

Originally, British Columbia used comparisons with Italy, South Korea and the Chinese province of Hubei to develop models of what the worst hospital scenarios could look like.

However, the province says it will no longer rely on comparisons with Italy and Hubei.

“British Columbia cases have started to stagnate,” said Minister of Health Adrian Dix.

“We have cautious optimism about a downtrend, but only cautious optimism. “

Henry said the province is developing two new models to help decision-making – one predicting new cases in the short term, assuming there is no change in current measures; and a simulator of what could happen if the levels of physical distancing change.

Using data collected through a partnership between the B.C. Center for Disease Control and Google Mobility Reports, the province estimates that current contact between people in British Columbia is approximately 30% of normal.

They currently estimate that COVID-19 hospitalizations could remain relatively stable if British Columbia had between 40 and 60 percent of regular contacts – but anything more would likely cause a new outbreak.

Prepare for fall

Health officials are also concerned about the return of the virus in the fall and have started ordering more ventilators and adding more acute care beds as a precaution.

As with the province’s first release of modeling data three weeks ago, authorities have not released projections of the number of deaths in British Columbia. Henry argued that this would not be “useful” to the planning of officials.

Dix said that finding a balance allowing British Columbians to resume certain activities while containing the virus would be a huge task for the authorities in the coming weeks.

“We need to find a healthy path for the next 12 to 18 months … a new healthy standard that supports and protects us,” he said.

“We have to find a path to follow that allows us to socialize. Whatever steps we take, we know there is a significant human cost if we get it wrong. The situation is complex and unprecedented in our lives. ”

A model released by the B.C. government of how critical care cases for COVID-19 could develop in the coming months depending on the level of restrictions in place. (BC Center for Disease Control)

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