COVID-19: B.C. on track for Step 2 of reopening next week as modelling shows cases could dip by the fall

Modelling shows cases could dip close to zero by the fall with the proper health measures and continuing vaccination

Article content

B.C. could be at a manageable level of COVID-19 cases by the fall even as the province reopens — if vaccination uptake stays high and interpersonal contacts, while increasing, stay below pre-pandemic levels.

According to provincial modelling data presented Thursday, a return to 70 per cent of pre-pandemic interpersonal contacts and high vaccine uptake would mean close to zero daily COVID cases by the start of September.

Even with an 80 per cent contact rate, cases can be kept to manageable levels, thanks to the level of protection given by vaccines and continued public health measures, said B.C.’s provincial health officer.

“Even with increased contact rate as much as 80 per cent over the next few weeks, we are more likely to see more cases arrive, but they are not going to be transmitted in our communities the way we’ve seen before,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

For the first time in months, the province’s COVID-19 reproductive rate is below one, which means each sick person is transmitting the virus to less than one other person — a change from modelling in April that showed that rate rising.


Article content

The figures place the province in a good position to continue with its reopening plan, which is supposed to enter Step 2 on Tuesday.

“The data we have is supporting we can go there,” said Henry. “I am confident we can take this step as long as we increase our contacts in a slow, measured way,” and as more people get vaccinated.

New case numbers reflected the downward trend, with 153 cases reported Thursday, bringing the number of active cases to 1,910.

Out of these, 176 people are hospitalized, including 49 in critical care. Four more people have died: One in their 50s, another in their 60s, and two in their 80s.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.


Article content

COVID cases are more prevalent in some regions than others.

Grand Forks is the province’s hot spot, with 16 new cases daily for every 100,000 people, according to figures from June 1 to 7. In the Lower Mainland, Abbotsford has about 10 cases per 100,000, followed by parts of Vancouver, and Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, with approximately six cases per 100,000.

Surrey had the highest number of cases in the same period, at about 220, followed by the Central Okanagan, with 120, and Abbotsford, with 110.

Even as cases spiked in the third wave, deaths remained low, which Henry attributed to the success of the immunization program that first targeted the elderly and other people most at risk.

Every health area in B.C. has hit at least 50 per cent vaccination uptake. Places that have lower uptake include Fort Nelson and Peace River in northeast B.C., the Cariboo, Burns Lake and Quesnel, and Richmond, UBC and Mission in the Lower Mainland.

But those numbers have begun to move for some areas, said health officials, thanks to work by community and religious leaders to encourage people to get their shots.

“Richmond is now above the norm in terms of registration,” with the vaccination gap closing fast, said Health Minister Adrian Dix, noting it’s a similar situation at UBC.

Dix said clinics are administering vaccines as fast as they arrive in B.C., and health authorities are looking at several strategies to improve access and get more people vaccinated, including sending mobile units to the Interior and Northern B.C. to offer vaccines where people are.

In B.C. more than 3.8 million doses have been dispensed — 12 per cent of which are second doses. Nearly 75 per cent of all adults in B.C. have received their first shot, and nearly 73 per cent of those age 12 and older.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.


Article content

Get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

This website uses cookies and asks your personal data to enhance your browsing experience.