A rapid increase in “unsafe” contacts has B.C.’s top doctor warning of the potential for “explosive” growth in the number of COVID-19 cases in the province.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says increased contacts in restaurants, hotels, houseboats and at house parties have led to a recent surge in cases. Henry says the recent trend is driven by young people in their 20s and 30s.
“We do have the possibility of having explosive growth here in our outbreak, if we’re not careful,” Henry said.
The latest modelling data shows cases could surge in the summer and the province is no longer “flattening our curve.”
“We are at a place where we could see rapid progression of transmission of this virus if we are not careful,” Dr. Henry said.
“We still have it in our hands to make a difference.”
Information presented by Henry on Monday shows the average person’s number contacts are between 65 to 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. The province’s analysis shows the potential for a massive surge in cases, surpassing the number of cases in mid-April, if contacts hit 80 per cent of normal.
“We run the risk of having a rapid rebound in new cases. We are starting to see an uptick. This is concerning but it is not foregone that we will have a rapid rebound,” Henry said.
The big concern from health officials is people who are testing positive have a growing number of contacts. In March, before severe restrictions were put in place, test-positive cases were traced back to 11 or 12 contacts each.
Those numbers dropped to three or four after restrictions were put in place, but are now back in the double-digit range.
Henry says in some cases there have been test-positive individuals with between 20 to 30 contacts.
“We are starting to see people who are testing positive in the last few days having a large number of contacts again,” Dr. Henry said.
“We knew this was going to happen but the challenge now is we are no longer having safe connections.”