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

Just Posted

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.
‘We did not unite around blind loyalty to one man’:Kenney faces internal call to quit

Senior backbench member Todd Loewen, in a letter posted on Facebook, called on Kenney to resign

Alberta continues to wrestle with high COVID-19 case numbers. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer up to 858 active cases of COVID-19

Province reports additional 1,799 cases of the virus

Town of Sylvan Lake. File Photo
Sylvan Lake residents affected by Boil Water Advisory to be compensated

Sylvan Lake Town Council says the roughly 3,700 residents affected last month will be compensated

Marc Kielburger, screen left, and Craig Kielburger, screen right, appear as witnesses via video conference during a House of Commons finance committee in the Wellington Building in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The committee is looking into Government Spending, WE Charity and the Canada Student Service Grant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau didn’t violate conflict rules over WE Charity, watchdog says

Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion found that former finance minister Bill Morneau did violate the rules

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
Alberta RCMP investigating possible threat to police after Mirror rally

Online images show RCMP members, vehicles in crosshairs of a rifle

An Israeli attack helicopter launches flares as he flies over the Israeli Gaza border, southern Israel, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Singh calls for halt on Canadian arms sales to Israel as violence escalates in region

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019

New homes are built in a housing construction development in the west-end of Ottawa on Thursday, May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Budget’s foreign-homebuyers tax could bring in $509 million over 4 years, PBO says

Liberals are proposing a one per cent tax on vacant homes owned by foreign non-residents

A Canadian flag patch is shown on a soldier’s shoulder in Trenton, Ont., on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. The Canadian Forces says it has charged one of its members in the death of an army reservist from British Columbia during a training exercise at a military base in Alberta last year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
Canadian Forces member charged in death of army reservist during training exercise

Cpl. Lars Callsen has been charged with one count of negligence

A youth plays basketball in an otherwise quiet court in Toronto on Saturday April 17, 2021. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is urging the federal and provincial governments to fight COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on proven public health policy interventions including paid sick leave, and education rather than punitive enforcement measures. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Provinces issued more COVID-19 tickets during 2nd wave: CCLA report

‘A pandemic is a public health, not a public order, crisis,’ reads the report

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Trudeau is rejecting accusations from Alberta’s justice minister that his federal government is part of a trio rooting for that province’s health system to collapse due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta justice minister sorry for saying feds, others rooting for COVID disaster

Earlier Tuesday, prior to Madu’s apology, Trudeau rejected the accusations

In this Monday, March 15, 2021 file photo a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Boulogne Billancourt, outside Paris. Questions remained Wednesday about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada, as Manitoba limited use of the shot and Ontario announced it planned to save an incoming shipment to use as second doses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena, File
Questions remain about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot in Canada

More than two million Canadians have received AstraZeneca and 17 have been confirmed to have VITT

Most Read