Friday, April 17, 2020

COVID modelling update highlights some of the success so far; with a call to carry on to remain on the right track

British Columbia's Provincial Health Officer, Doctor Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provided for an update on provincial models today; tracking the path of the BC Response to COVID-19, while exploring how the province has fared to date, along with how keeping on the current track is vital towards continuing to realize positive trends in the ongoing work on the virus.

From the Review of today, the date reveals that peak period to date for new cases came in late March, with the last two weeks delivering some significant progress towards scaling down the curve as British Columbians adjusted to the range of physical distancing and other measures that have been put in place.

The Doctor outlined some background on how the underlying health conditions has had some impact on the way that the virus impacts those who contract it, with particular attention to those living in our seniors and extended are facilities.

Patients between the ages of 50-70 who have faced the challenges of the virus are the most likely to end up in Intensive care and to make use of ventilators, as part of the treatment program.

One key area of note for the Northern Health Region comes from the data on hospital bed allocation to this point of the pandemic, with few COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization (1 to the date of the data of April 9th). 

Those results come as a result of the current case count levels which have seen the Northern Health region host the lowest amount of confirmed cases of the virus to date.

With such a low return so far, that makes for just under a 34 percent critical care occupancy rate for the 86 available critical care beds in Northern Health hospitals.

During the course of the Question and Answer period, Dr. Henry noted that following the range of health measures in place have clearly played a role towards the results to date.

"Well, I think that's very clear, it is the work that we have done together to follow that advice, to stay close to home, to stay close to our families, to keep those safe distances, to clean our hands to stay away from others if we're ill. That is what has made the difference for us in British Columbia, and I and we, are profoundly grateful because it is the way that we have come through this together. But we're not out of it yet, we're still in the eye of that storm and we still have to watch what's happening around the world and we need to continue to support each other, to be kind to each other and to continue to be safe"-- Dr. Bonnie Henry

Looking ahead to the next number of months, the over-riding goal is to continue to control  transmission and growth in new cases, while monitoring and minimizing unintended consequences of necessary public health measures.

The Health Minister called attention to how British Columbians have done their part to help control the situation, though he cautioned that we are far from done. Noting that for British Columbians the way in place towards finding a healthy way forward will sustain us, until a vaccine and treatments for the COVID-19 virus are available.

"We are hopeful and supportive of efforts for a vaccine, but they are going to take a while to develop. We've made, I think together, some good decisions and followed through together in a way that has led to positive results. We've asked people to be 100 precent all in  and to a remarkable degree they have." -- BC Health Minister Adrian Dix

Towards relaxing some of the current restrictions the province will be looking to expand on its testing and transmission tracing programs and remain ready to react to any unexpected increases to new cases that may be recorded in the future.

When it comes to the current public health measures, the Health Minister noted that more modelling and discussion in the early part of May may provide some guidance as to how the province approaches gradual relaxation of measures, with an eye towards looking at various regions and jurisdictions in the province.

Those results will have different implications for different industries based on the abilities towards physical distancing and other guidance from the Provincial Health Officer.

Dr. Henry did observe that while there's no firm decision towards a return to the schools, the Ministry of Education and its staff continue to explore their options.

On a question of whether the public will continue to buy in on the level restrictions in place, Dr. Henry did offer some hope for the summer of opportunities for more social connection than in  recent times.

"I think that this summer, I believe this summer, we will have the opportunities to have way more social connection than we have had in the last month to six weeks. But we're not quite there yet, so I'm asking for patience, I'm asking for us to continue to be kind to each other, to stay safe with each other and that we will make this through together and we will have opportunities for being together again. And it's not going to be as restrictive as we are now, but need to have those safe guards in place so we can monitor things in time"

For more notes on the Provincial response to COVID-19 see our archive page here.

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