Why B.C.’s Curve is No Longer Flat

New COVID-19 Enforcement Measures in B.C. | Dr. Ali Ghahary

The first case of COVID-19 in British Columbia was announced on January 28th, 2020. By late April and into May, we began to see signs that are province was starting to flatten the curve, with fewer active cases reported. British Columbians showed they were able to follow guidelines (such as practicing social distancing, regular hand washing, and staying home when sick) from our local health officials (Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry; and Health Minister Adrian Dix) without going into extreme lockdowns (as seen in other parts of the world, like Italy and the United States.) As the number of new cases continued to be on the decline in our province, certain restrictions were eased and British Columbians could go back to having some semblance of normalcy in their lives, while remaining cautious and continuing to take all measures necessary to keep themselves and those around them as safe and healthy as possible.

Unfortunately, in recent weeks, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of reported cases of COVID-19 here in B.C. – having gone from seeing approximately 20 new cases a day, to 30+ over the past week or two. As for what’s causing this latest rise in active cases, most of them have been linked to multiple events consisting of large gatherings in Kelowna on or around Canada Day. What health officials have also pointed out as that many of these newest cases are being reported in younger individuals – particularly those in their 20s and 30s – while many of the previously reported cases were in individuals whom were much older, such as in their 60s, 70s, and 80s.

What this rise in COVID-19 numbers shows is that people are starting to have too many close contacts once again – particularly with people they don’t know. While we all want to have a fun summer with our friends, this is, unfortunately, something we cannot do in the ways we were used to from previous summers. Gathering in larger groups also makes it more difficult for health officials to conduct contact tracing efforts. In earlier reported cases back in January through April, someone diagnosed with COVID-19 may have only had contact with three to four people; whereas now, health officials are having to track down as many as 30 different contacts per person, then the contacts of those people, and so on.

While numbers were expected to rise somewhat as we slowly re-entered into each phase of the province’s re-opening plan, all of this serves as a reminder that we need to continue to be as careful and vigilant as we can; and while it’s certainly easy for some to fall into the “it won’t happen to me” mindset, it’s important to remember that it can happen to you – even if you think it won’t. Even without exhibiting any symptoms, COVID-19 is still a virus that can infect individuals, which means that you could potentially be spreading it on to others unknowingly and unintentionally. As such, we all need to act as though we carry the virus. How do we do this? By following the guidelines our health officials continue to remind us of: Keeping our distance from others and wearing a mask in situations where maintaining that safe space of 2 metres is not possible (for example, if you work in a small office or while at the grocery store), avoiding touching our faces, washing our hands regularly with soap and water (or using hand sanitizer when soap and water isn’t readily available), allowing employees to work remote to decrease the number of staff in the workplace at a single time, and by staying home when you feel sick or if you happen to be caring for someone in your household who has fallen ill (even if your/their symptoms are mild.)

The quicker we go back to following these important and crucial measures, the quicker we will start to see a decline in the number of cases being reported in our province again, as the last thing we want to do is fall backwards when British Columbians did such a good job at flattening the curve to begin with.