Provincial modelling shows British Columbia could nearly wipe out COVID-19 by September if vaccination uptake for second doses is high and personal interactions remain well below pre-pandemic levels.
According to the data presented Thursday by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, a 70-per-cent interaction rate, combined with a high vaccine uptake, would mean close to zero new cases a day by the beginning of that month.
In comparison, a lower vaccine uptake and an 80-per-cent interaction rate, B.C. would likely record 200 new COVID-19 cases a day at the beginning of September.
The virus reproductive rate continues to plummet, now well below 1.0 in all of the health authorities. The provincial average is between .57 and .63. That means that for every 100 cases, only 57 to 63 will be passed on to someone else.
Variants of concerns now make up more than 80 per cent of all COVID-19 case samples tested in B.C.
Those aged five to 12 make up 6.1 per cent of cases and 7.7 per cent of the population.
Those 13 to 18 make up 6.7 per cent of cases and six per cent of the population.
There have been no deaths among school-aged children due to COVID-19.
Hospitalizations related to the virus are one in 200 for school-aged children compared to one in 20 for those 19 plus.
The province is set to slowly reopen, with Step 2 expected to begin on June 15.
This stage includes outdoor personal gatherings of up to 50 people, kids’ playdates indoors, indoor seated gatherings of up to 50 people with a COVID-19 safety plan in place, and the opening of movie theatres.
It also would allow recreational travel across the province, liquor to be served at licensed establishments until midnight, and banquet halls to start operating again.
Indoor high-intensity group exercise would also be allowed with reduced capacity, along with indoor games and practices for both adults and youth group/team sports. Outdoor sports can have up to 50 spectators.
Moving to the next step is based on immunizations and transmission of the virus.
When the province announced the restart plan on May 25, the rolling seven-day average for daily cases was 329 and there were 301 people in hospital.
On Thursday, the seven-day average was 168 cases and the number in hospital was 195. Also, the number of patients in intensive care dropped from 93 to 47.
Immunizations are another crucial metric. The province said Wednesday that 74.5 per cent of adults have received at least one dose of vaccine, well above the threshold needed for moving to Step 2.
Some areas in the province still have higher rates of transmission.
Grand Forks is the province’s current hot spot with 16 new cases per 100,000 in population. Abbotsford, Cranbrook and Upper Skeena are all around 10 cases per 100,000.
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