Case numbers suggest B.C. COVID-19 curve is flattening

Figures from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control show that the province’s infection rate is again flat and could even go into decline in the coming days.

The CDC’s infection data shows that beginning last Thursday, B.C.’s rolling seven-day average of new infections per sick person fell below 1.0, meaning not every person infected with the novel coronavirus is passing the virus on. That usually leads to a drop in infections.

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When the rate is 1.0 or above, that means each infected person, on average, is passing the virus on to at least one other person.

B.C.’s seven-day average growth rate in infections was last below 1.0 in late June and early July.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said this week that public health officials are now finding very few new cases that cannot be connected to a previously confirmed case.

At the beginning of September, Henry said the infection curve had flattened somewhat, even though the confirmed-case data showed a continued increase in infections.

The disease control data is a reminder that the daily case counts do not capture the whole story of what’s going on with COVID-19 in the province. More tests are being conducted and the percentage of tests returning positive results has remained low, at around 1.5 per cent.

“It tells me that we are testing the people who need the test and that we still have relatively low rates of transmission in our community. That’s important,” Henry said. “That tells us that we’re finding people with the strategy that we have for testing, where people are tested if they’ve had an exposure or they have symptoms. So we know their pre-test probability is higher, that we’re testing the right people.”

Early in the pandemic, the number of positive tests was often four to six times higher, suggesting there were many cases that were not being recorded officially. A rate around five per cent is when officials get concerned, Henry said.

The data shows that in mid-March each infected person was, on average, the direct cause of four further infections.

Henry said Wednesday that 125 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported in B.C. in the previous 24 hours. There were no deaths linked to the virus.

Two of the new cases were in the Island Health region, bringing the total to date to 208. Three cases are active and six deaths have been linked to the virus.

The number of active cases in B.C. went up by 16. There are now 1,284 cases of the disease, of which 72 were being treated in hospital.

There have been 9,138 cases of COVID-19 reported in B.C. since the first case appeared in late January in a man who returned to Vancouver from Wuhan, China, on a business trip.

Henry said that 3,202 people are under public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and that 7,591 people who had tested positive have recovered.

— With files from David Carrigg and Times Colonist

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