British Columbia may soon have the highest number of active COVID-19 cases in the country if the virus continues to spread at its current rate, experts say.
The province has 824 active cases – more than the 717 cases in British Columbia at the height of the pandemic.
“We will be ruling Canada in a few weeks if we don’t change the rate,” said Caroline Colijn, professor of mathematics at Simon Fraser University. “It is increasing very quickly. It’s worrying. Colijn also holds a Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Infections, Evolution and Public Health.
From August 14 to 20, a total of 551 new cases were reported in the province, a 40% increase from the previous week.
Just a month ago, British Columbia had one of the lowest per capita case rates in North America.
Here is a look at what is happening in the Western Province; how do the cases in the greater toronto area compare to the rest of ontario and which areas of toronto have been recently affected by COVID.
What’s going on in the West?
In British Columbia, the largest peaks in COVID-19 cases are among people aged 20 to 39, but cases have also increased in all age groups.
Colijn said the increases were largely due to the greater number of people socializing indoors at bars or parties where the potential for transmission is high.
Although she said there was a “moralistic flavor” in some of the conversations accusing young people of transmitting the virus, Colijn said: “We have opened bars, nightclubs and restaurants. And we shouldn’t be too surprised if people who enjoy these activities are going to do them.
The real problem, however, comes from the reopening of schools.
“If you have an ongoing community transmission,” Colijn said, “and you reopen the schools, you amplify it with the schools and you also risk introducing cases right away.”
Colijn said models show that a quarter to half of schools in the province’s Lower Mainland are likely to have a case of COVID attending on day one.
She said it was possible that some of those people would suspect or know they have the virus and stay home, but if they don’t, there could be 25 schools with big outbreaks.
Colijn said the province needs to move social interactions outside and limit the number of people inside the current maximum of 50 to something more like 10.
The more community transmission can be reduced before the start of the school year, “the better,” she says.
“I feel like if you get together and discuss what to do with schools on Zoom, maybe it is a good sign that you weren’t going to attend a 1500 conference yourself. people which lasts the whole week for several weeks and which is organized in groups of 30 people in rooms together, ”Colijn said. “This is what they ask teens to do in three weeks.”
Although BC ferries and Vancouver transit have made masks mandatory on Mondays, masks are not yet required in schools or inside public places.
Provincial health officials believe that a mask can give the wearer a false sense of security, according to press reports, and this will make them more likely to engage in risky behavior.
Cases in the Greater Toronto Area and Ontario
For the first time in a month, the seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 infections in the GTA soared above that of all other parts of the province.
The trend, which began on August 20, is largely driven by an increase in cases in Toronto and Peel Region, which recorded 33 and 26 cases of the virus, respectively, on Monday.
Throughout most of the pandemic, the seven-day moving average of cases in the GTA was well above that of the rest of Ontario, but that trend reversed on July 23.
Now, just over three weeks after Toronto and Peel entered stage three of the reopening, there are on average more cases inside the GTA than outside.
Todd Coleman, epidemiologist and assistant professor of health sciences at Wilfrid Laurier University, said an increase in the moving average in the GTA may be a reflection of the fact that the GTA has entered Stage 3 more recently. than most other parts of Ontario. He also noted that once things reopen, city dwellers tend to come into contact with each other more often.
“The very nature of a place like the Greater Toronto Area where, on average, there are more physical connections between individuals, a higher population density, which means there are a lot more possibilities for people get in touch, which means there’s more potential for transmission, ”Coleman said.
He pointed out, however, that the seven-day moving averages for the Greater Toronto Area and the rest of the province are still relatively low compared to where they were at the start of the pandemic, and with smaller numbers, these interpretations should be made with caution.
“For me, the numbers represent a relatively stable trend. If Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area can keep these numbers low, it allows public health to focus more on each case, instead of spreading resources across several thousand cases, ”he said.
“Overall, these trends look positive and encouraging, but we also need to remain cautious and observant, and continue to encourage testing, the use of masks, and other prevention and surveillance measures, in order to continue reducing the number of active cases as much as us before starting to facilitate other social ties, like the school openings in September. “
Overall, 43,597 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 have been reported to Ontario public health units, with 160 new infections reported on Monday in the previous 24 hours. There were also 1,036 active cases of the virus on Monday, the first time the number of such cases has risen above 1,000 since August 7.
Which neighborhoods in Toronto have the most cases?
Toronto’s Downsview-Roding neighborhood has recorded the most cases in the past three weeks at 16, followed by Waterfront Communities-The Island with 14 and Glenfield-Jane Heights with 13.
No cases have been reported for residents living in more than 40 of the city’s 140 neighborhoods, according to a map released by Toronto Public Health (TPH).
Toronto Assistant Medical Officer of Health Dr. Christine Navarro notes that it is “important to keep in mind that these maps reflect where people live and do not necessarily reflect where they were exposed to the virus. . Areas with lower rates of COVID-19 cases are not inherently safer. “
There have been calls for public health to publish the framework under which cases are transmitted in order to assess risk, but it is difficult to determine the origin of the virus for each case.
Contact tracers look at a person’s activities in the two weeks before symptoms appear, but “it can be difficult to determine where a person may have acquired the infection, especially if they are not aware of it. have been in contact with someone who is sick or diagnosed with COVID-19, ”Navarro said. “Or if they weren’t in an environment where an epidemic is known, such as a long-term care home.”
TPH also traces contacts of a case from 48 hours before the onset of symptoms up to 14 days after to warn those who may be at risk.
Navarro says the task becomes even more difficult when people resume some of their usual activities in various public places and workplaces where others are present.
To manage the spread in the community, TPH continues to recommend that residents practice physical distancing, good hand hygiene, wear a mask or face mask indoors, and stay home when sick. .