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B.C.'s COVID-19 curve serves as reminder for continued vigilance

Last Updated Aug 10, 2020 at 6:18 am PDT

FILE - Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Summary

An infectious disease expert says B.C.'s rising COVID-19 case load serves as a reminder for continued vigilance

B.C. flattened its COVID-19 curve in the late spring but has seen an increase in the number of daily cases

Expert says it's expected that case numbers will rise as more businesses reopen

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – After a hotel and nightclub in downtown Vancouver had to bar a party bus full of people from entering over the weekend, maybe it’s not so surprising B.C.’s COVID-19 cases have seen a concerning jump in recent weeks.

While an infectious diseases expert says it’s expected that case numbers will rise as more businesses reopen and restrictions are loosened, Doctor Isaac Bogoch says B.C. needs to tread cautiously.

“As places open up, there’s just more opportunities for people to get together,” Bogoch tells NEWS 1130. “And we know this virus is easily transmitted, especially in indoor settings where there’s multiple people congregated close together for prolonged periods of time.”

B.C.’s provincial health officer and COVID-19 containment measures were lauded early on in the pandemic, with eyes on the international stage even looking toward the province’s response after B.C. flattened its curve in late spring.

Watch: Large group from party bus denied bar entrance in Vancouver

However, Bogoch says B.C. has presented a number of examples as to how gatherings can spark outbreaks, pointing to house parties over the past several weeks which have been pinpointed by health officials as the main cause of recent outbreaks.

“These are perfect settings for the virus to be transmitted,” he explains, adding it only takes one infected person to be a catalyst for outbreak.

Despite the curve trending back up in B.C., Bogoch doesn’t believe it’s time for a reckoning for the province.

“I wouldn’t wish this outbreak or epidemic or virus on any individual or any population, and B.C., certainly, has done a wonderful job in keeping their numbers low and getting the virus under control, especially in the earlier phases of the epidemic in Canada. This just tells me that we have to have continued vigilance,” Bogoch says.

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“Even after our first wave of infections, the vast majority of people are still susceptible to this infection, especially in British Columbia, where less than one per cent of the population of the greater Vancouver area was found to have this infection in the serologic studies that were done.”

Bogoch notes we shouldn’t view the easing of pandemic restrictions as a one-way street, and that they could tighten back up again if the numbers rise to concerning levels.

However, he’s not sure if B.C. is quite at that point.

“And certainly, if there is a significant rise in cases, people should be well aware that there might be the reimposition of these public health measures,” he says, adding similar moves have been seen in countries that have been praised for their responses to COVID-19.

Pointing to places like Germany and Japan, Bogoch says these countries have seen outbreaks that were “just too big” during their reopening phases to control with loosened measures.

“And they had to reimpose some significant public health measures for a period of time to get their community levels under better control,” Bogoch tells NEWS 1130. “I think that is very likely to happen in Canada at some point along the way.”

When that happens is unclear, he says, adding to avoid that scenario, Canadians need to do their part to slow the spread of the coronavirus.