A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

An independent COVID-19 modelling group says hospitalizations from COVID-19 are projected to overwhelm hospital capacity in British Columbia by May, unless rigorous restrictions are put in place.

The B.C. COVID 19 Modelling Group is made up of a range of academics from Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia and has support from the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences.

Sarah Otto, a UBC professor and a member of the group, has previously warned that the province is under-reporting its COVID-19 variants.

She says transmission of the virus must be reduced by roughly 40 per cent from the levels seen in March to help health authorities control case growth.

The group also projects cases of variants of concern to rise to nearly 2,000 a day by late April.

Otto says this isn’t the COVID we know from last year, because the new variants are three to five times more likely to land a person in hospital.

“That spike is going to overwhelm hospitals and (intensive care unit) capacity before we have time to get our vaccines rolled out unless we bend this curve,” she said in an interview, referring to reducing the rate of virus transmission.

The province reported Wednesday that 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December.

British Columbia reported 1,168 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its total number to 114,870. There are 9,821 active COVID-19 cases, along with six new deaths.

Otto said B.C.’s vaccination program also needs to target those with the most contacts to both reduce infection and hospitalization rates over the next two to three months.

B.C. had administered almost 1.2 million doses of the vaccines as of Wednesday.

“We really have to hold off on our collective activity for a couple more months and let the vaccination rollout play out,” Otto said. “The loosening up I think a lot of people were starting to do, it’s just not the right time.”

Rapid testing, along with targeting vaccinations to hot spots and members of the population most at risk, could reduce the spread of variants, Otto said.

In particular, rapid testing could improve B.C.’s contact tracing efforts, which could better identify areas of transmission, she added.

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a joint statement that all those eligible to be vaccinated should do so.

“This not only protects you, but also provides greater protection to everyone around you,” they said.

The warning from experts comes after B.C. Premier John Horgan said Tuesday that his cabinet would be considering further restrictions.

The B.C. Restaurants and Food Association said it was informed by Henry that current dine-in restrictions would likely be extended past April 19 and into May.

The association said in a release that members were told the rise in B.C.’s COVID-19 cases was given as one of the reasons for the extension of closures.

READ MORE: Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year

READ MORE: B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

READ MORE: Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Nick Wells, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Memorials have been set up to honour those who died during the Second World War. (Pixabay.com)
COLUMN: It’s time to stop making comparisons to Hitler

The deadliest, most destructive war in human history should not become a metaphor

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

An example of one the sounding boards the RDOS has set up to gather feedback for their first parks, trails and recreation master plan. (RDOS)
Looking for feedback from Princeton and Keremeos for park and rec plan

Sounding boards have been set up in both regions for in-person input

Al Kowalko shows off the province's first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Okanagan schools shifting gears to electric buses

Vernon, Central Okanagan, Rocky Mountain and Okanagan-Skaha on board

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Coronavirus 3D illustration. (CDC photo)
Two South Okanagan businesses closed due to COVID-19

The businesses are listed on the Interior Health website

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Former University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett
Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan for ‘mishandling’ sexual assault report

Stephanie Hale did not return to campus after the student she alleges attacked her was cleared of wrongdoing

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Kelowna seen from the top of Knox Mountain. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
Accessibility concerns raised as Kelowna ponders banning vehicles from Knox Mountain

Knox Mountain Drive, which leads to two lookouts, has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began

(Pixabay photo)
Cow-based wildfire mitigation pilot contended by Southeast Kelowna group

‘Targeted grazing’ program would see 50 cows deployed to 60-hectare parcel above Field Road

Most Read