The encouraging news in B.C.’s public health report on one year of the COVID-19 pandemic is that vaccinated seniors are significantly protected, children have had few severe illnesses, and B.C. maintained a lower infection rate than other large provinces while keeping schools and many businesses open.
The troubling signs include high infection rate in B.C.’s northwest, with mass vaccination of Prince Rupert, Port Edward and Haida Gwaii targeted for completion by April. And as provincial health officials work out which essential employee groups get priority for AstraZeneca vaccine in addition to the age-based mass immunization program, overall case numbers have started to climb, particularly variant strains.
Premier John Horgan and other party leaders marked the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration of a global pandemic in the legislature, and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry released the latest B.C. Centre for Disease Control modelling data Thursday.
“We have been on a steadily downward trajectory until about the middle of February,” Henry said March 11, with cases starting back up but the crucial hospitalization and death rates continuing to decline.
The data set confirms that vaccination of senior home staff and residents has dropped the infection rate in both groups to a low level.
B.C.’s cases of “variants of concern” have risen but are still below 10 per cent of new cases, compared to the 40 per cent just reported in Ontario, Henry said.
B.C.’s success in limiting serious illness and death from the novel coronavirus is reflected in cause-of-death statistics for 2020. COVID-19 ranks eighth, with the top four remaining cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. In fifth place is illicit drug overdoses, followed by lower-respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, COVID-19, influenza and pneumonia, accidents, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, kidney disease, hypertension and suicide.