Additionally, media reported four incidents of exposure at Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) schools that do not appear on the regional authority’s website. (VCH released a joint statement with BC Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry to address concerns about its approach, and Henry spoke in more detail on the matter during the update. BC COVID-19 on September 24.)
Fraser Health’s 20 exhibits are by far the five health regions in British Columbia. VCH’s five exhibits rank second, Northern Health and Interior Health’s three come next, and Island Health’s zero score claims last place.
(In contrast, more than 550 schools in Ontario and Quebec had reported at least one case of COVID-19 as of September 23, with Quebec accounting for over 70% of that total.)
Surry School District 36 – the largest in British Columbia, with more than 70,000 students – accounted for 12 of Fraser Health’s 20 official exhibits, 60 percent of the area’s school cases, and about 40 percent of the provincial total. (Fraser Health covers 20 communities from Burnaby to Hope.)
The population of Surrey – according to the 2016 census, the latest statistics available – is 517,887, while Vancouver proper is 631,486.
An “exposure” at school is defined by health authorities in British Columbia as “a single person with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection who attended school during their infectious period.”
A ‘cluster’ is described as’ two or more people with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection who attended school during their infectious period, ‘while the term’ outbreak ‘is used for’ multiple people with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection when transmission is likely to be widespread in school settings.
In all of the above cases, public health officials investigate and initiate contact tracing.
Almost half of the 31 exposures reported in British Columbia schools, 14, were in high schools, and 11 of those were from Fraser Health, and Surrey represents nine. This number from Surrey represents almost 80 percent of the region’s secondary school exhibits and about 65 percent of the provincial secondary school total.
According to the mathematical modeling published in the Straight ahead which was done by SFU epidemiologist and mathematician Caroline Colijn and three colleagues before schools reopened on September 10, high schools in the VCH and Fraser Health regions could experience “tens to hundreds” of “outbreaks” of COVID-19.
Regarding their article then undergoing peer review, they wrote in an August 14 article: “The chance that a school of 1,500 students has at least one contagious entrant is 20-30%. A large number of high schools in the VCH and the FH region are at serious risk of an epidemic, right away. ”
The article predicts that “a single asymptomatic student could infect between 10 and 25 other students in a single week. Then, before they know they are sick, these new cases could infect many other students, family members, teachers and other contacts. This could lead to outbreaks of tens to hundreds. ”