'I would say we are very close to a third wave': COVID-19 cases continue to climb in B.C.
VICTORIA -- British Columbians continue to see a rise in the province's weekly rolling average number of COVID-19 cases. On Thursday, that trend continued with 800 new cases recorded over a 24-hour period, including 45 on Vancouver Island.
But, as those number were being tallied, relief was on the faces of seniors being vaccinated at Langford’s Eagle Ridge Community Centre.
“I just got my vaccine shot,” said Anna Hawkins. “You feel a little safer.”
At the Esquimalt Curling Club, seniors report more of the same.
“I feel so relieved, and we’ll feel better after the second one,” said Helen Campbell. “We’ve looked forward to this.”
On Thursday, good news came from B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.
“We are ahead of schedule than what we had expected,” he said.
The province hoped to have 10 per cent of people in B.C. vaccinated by the end of March. Currently we are sitting at just above 12 per cent.
“Obviously 12.17 per cent is not close to community immunity,” noted Dix.
These vaccination stats are coming on the heels of a week of extremely high infection rates across the province.
“We’re seeing increasing community-based transmission,” said Dr. Brian Conway, medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Disease Centre. “We’re seeing an increase in the number of variants that are more contagious.”
“I would say we are very close to a third wave,” he told CTV News.
The increase in infections is being detected primarily in a group of people slated to be one of the last demographics to be vaccinated, people aged 25 to 39.
“Even a small group of people coming together means that you can transmit,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, on Thursday.
Health officials say that one contributing factor to the rise in cases is that young people are continuing to meet in risky, indoor group settings.
“It’s clearly, behaviourally driven,” said Conway.
The Vancouver Infectious Disease Centre medical director says there is a solution.
“By reopening, by relaxing public health measures, especially for outdoor activities which we now know are completely safe or virtually so, we give people something positive to do and that in and of itself may prompt them to avoid the riskier behaviours,” said Conway.
On Thursday, the province said it would be taking a stronger approach by more than doubling the fine for an individual attending a non-compliant gathering. That fine is increasing from $230 to $575.
The surge in COVID-19 cases prompted B.C.'s top doctor to issue another warning about getting together during the upcoming holidays.
“If you’re used to having Easter supper at home and having your family together, this is not the year to do that,” said Henry.