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B.C.'s high COVID case count prompts concerns around relaxing restrictions

Last Updated Mar 26, 2021 at 9:43 am PDT

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

B.C.'s current rate of viral spread comes as an SFU mathematician call for more transparency in COVID data

Province reported 800 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday

B.C. is slowly easing restrictions despite high daily COVID-19 case counts

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – On Thursday, B.C. reported its highest daily case count for COVID-19 this year, with 800 new infections confirmed.

The last time COVID-19 daily numbers were this high was back in November, before we began vaccinating British Columbians. At that time, B.C. was bringing in stricter rules, not loosening them.

The current rate of viral spread comes as an SFU mathematician calls for more transparency in COVID data,  including bringing back daily COVID-19 updates from the province.

The current situation has some people on edge, as the wheels are already in motion to relax more public health restrictions, including allowing indoor faith-based gatherings for Easter, Ramadan, Passover and Vaisakhi.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also recently changed rules about gathering to allow people to get together in groups of up to 10 as long as it’s outside. She’s also said that rules around long-term care visits would be relaxed as of April 1.

In November, when case counts were also over 800 for days, the province was making masks mandatory and restricting household gatherings to almost none and telling people to stay within their health regions unless for essential travel reasons.

On Thursday, Dr. Henry admitted she has recently faced frequent questions and been asked to explain the easing of restrictions given the rapid spread of variants and low vaccination distribution rate.

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She says washing our hands, not touching our face, wearing a mask and keeping our distance are still the most effective ways to prevent viral spread.

“And really, it’s not about easing restrictions as much as recognizing that at this phase in the pandemic, we need to focus on those things that we can do safely,” she said.

But even as she announced the move to relax religious gathering rules, Henry had a warning: “That it is those inside activities that continue to be increasing risk.”

The spread of COVID-19 virus variants continues to be a major concern in Canada, with the country’s top doctor saying these mutations pose the risk of undoing all the progress we’ve made over the last several months.

The main worry is that these variants will spread faster than Canadians can be vaccinated and Henry admitted Thursday they are already replacing the regular strain of COVID-19 here in B.C..

Variants are overwhelming hospital systems in the U.S. and elsewhere, even as vaccine distribution south of the border far outpaces our rollout. The U.S and U.K. are charting above 40/100 people inoculated, while Canada sits at 12/100 according to CNN’s global vaccine tracker.