In the past month, with schools back in session and more people going back into work, the majority of COVID-19 cases have been among people ages 20 to 39, according to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
She said while some students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19, people under the age of 19 still represent less than 10 per cent of total cases.
“What we’re not seeing is schools amplifying transmission in the community,” Henry said, noting there have been about 50 COVID-19 exposures in schools across B.C., including 14 since Oct. 1. None of those have been in the Kamloops-Thompson school district.
She said youth represent less than one per cent of hospitalization and none have required stays in intensive care. No school-aged child has died in B.C. from COVID-19.
While reviewing new epidemiological data and modelling on Monday (Oct. 5), Henry said the COVID-19 growth rate in B.C. has been decreasing and the curve is flattening again.
She said the data shows people are adhering to distancing measures, which are making a difference, as is contact tracing being done by public health.
“We are at a place where somewhere around 45 per cent of contacts we’re having have the potential to transmit this virus,” Henry said. “This is where we need to stay. This is what will keep us on this low and slow curve through the next few months, particularly as we enter respiratory season.”
Modelling data shows that an infectious contact rate of 60 per cent will turn the curve upwards again.
The current reproductive number of COVID-19 in B.C. — the number of new hosts the virus infects who are then able to infect others — is hovering just below one, Henry said. That means the virus, on average, is transmitting itself to fewer than one person per infectious contact.
“That means that we are having connections in our communities, but we’re having safe connections,” Henry said, noting case counts had been increasing in B.C., but are now levelling off.
As for upcoming holidays, Henry noted there is now advice on the BC Centre for Disease Control website pertaining to Thanksgiving, Halloween and Remembrance Day.
Henry said it is advised that gatherings be kept small and travel be avoided. She said buffet-style meals should not be held, time spent inside together should be limited and guests should be seated far apart.
Henry said B.C. is not seeing a lot of uncontrolled transmission as 80 per cent of cases are being traced back to known cases or outbreaks.
The number of people testing positive for COVID-19 has been increasing since July, and are higher than they were in the spring, but have plateaued.
There are fewer people now hospitalized with COVID-19 (66) than there were in the first wave in the spring. Henry said this reflects broader testing and younger people contracting the virus.
Of the 9,739 confirmed cases of COVID-19 recorded to date, half involve females, with the median age of those infected now 38. The median age of those in hospital in B.C. is 67, which has also come down. Three per cent of people with the virus have died. Elderly people still make up the majority of those who have died from COVID-19, with a median age of 85.
Test positive rate remains low
Henry said B.C.’s test-positive rate on the whole is low, at about 1.6 per cent.
She said testing is up 15 per cent from last week, with 50,000 tested this week. A total of more than 500,000 specimens have been tested in total. Turnaround time, however, is lagging behind as number of tests have increased, with an average turnaround for results of 28 hours, Henry said.
By age group, test-positive rates have increased two to four times among children ages five to 18 but the rate remains low, with one in 250 tests positive in children ages five to 12 and 1 in 62 positive in youth ages 13 to 18.
She said test-positive rates remain high in older demographics.