COVID-19 transmission goes up among B.C. kids when schools on break: data

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WATCH: B.C. health officials will provide the latest modelling data on the COVID-19 situation in the province at 2 p.m. PT.

In a presentation of new COVID-19 modelling data, B.C.’s top doctor says transmission among people from 0 to 19 years old goes up when school is out for break.

At a news conference on Thursday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said over the winter break and the recent spring break, COVID-19 cases went up among young people at a higher rate than while classes were in session.

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It was part of a larger presentation from health officials saying that COVID-19 variants are driving so much transmission that B.C. could hit 3,000 new cases per day, if trends continue.

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The province released data showing rates of transmission among kids throughout the school year, from Sept. 7 to April 9.

During the school year, five- to 12-year-olds made up 5.37 per cent of provincial cases while making up 7.65 per cent of the provincial population.

Those 13 to 18 years old made up 6.23 per cent of cases, while representing 6.16 per cent of the population.

Those 19 and up made up 86.32 per cent of cases and 81.79 per cent of the population.

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There have been no COVID-19-related deaths among school-age children, and fewer than 1 in 200 of those who tested positive for the virus have been hospitalized. The provincial hospitalization average for adults, meanwhile, is one in 20 people.

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The province concluded that 55 cases of COVID-19 were acquired in the Vancouver Coastal Health region in the school setting during the September-to-April period, while 267 cases were acquired in the Fraser Health region.

No transmission was identified in about 85 per cent of schools since the beginning of the school year, according to the province’s data.

“When transmission occurs within the school, it is usually limited to one or two additional cases,“ the modelling presentation reads.

“School transmission does not appear to be a major driver of community transmission.”

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Read more: B.C. could hit 3,000 new COVID-19 cases a day if contact trends don’t go down: health officials

Despite the data, health officials are still moving towards immunizing all school staff over the next few weeks, as well as first responders and child-care workers, starting in certain municipalities.

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“We use the same risk-based approach and we can’t do everyone at once. We looked at where risk and goals intertwined,” Henry said.

Fraser Health will start with vaccinating in North Delta and the Tri-Cities. Vancouver Coastal Health has not announced where it will start, but staff in the Vancouver School District have been told they can start making appointments as early as this weekend.

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