British Columbia’s provincial health officer says the findings of a study she co-authored showing children and youth have had the highest rates of COVID-19 in parts of the province should not be interpreted to suggest those infections occurred mostly in schools.
Dr. Bonnie Henry has been criticized by some parents, advocacy groups and health-care professionals who say a major jump in infections occurred during the school year among children under age 10.
They say measures like masking for all students and air filtration upgrades in schools could have been taken earlier to protect children in classrooms from a virus that was known to spread through the air.
However, Henry says some youth were becoming infected when they were not eligible for a vaccine, and illness among those under 19 was comparable with transmission of the virus in the community.
She says the findings of the study, which has not been peer-reviewed and was published online last week, are similar to those in other jurisdictions where schools were closed for much longer than in B.C.
The study lists Henry among 13 experts who say a series of surveillance reports of infections from the start of the pandemic until August this year show at least 70 to 80 per cent of youth in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley have been infected with COVID-19.