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

Plans to restore the ecology of Sidney Island include the eradication of fallow deer first introduced in the early 1900s. (Parks Canada/Submitted)
Parks Canada proposal calls for eradication of fallow deer on Sidney Island

Proposed eradication part of a larger plan to restore local ecology but obstacles remain ahead

A dramatic four-vehicle crash at the intersection of Government and Herald streets brings standstill in downtown Victoria on May 18. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
UPDATE: Downtown Victoria intersection reopens after 4 car crash injures passengers, slowed traffic

Traffic impacted after crash closes Government and Herald streets

The entrance to one of the tiny homes in Victoria’s Tiny Home Village. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)
Victoria Tiny Home Village resident evicted for lighting small fire

No damage or injuries, but zero-tolerance rule stands

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Arrests begin at Fairy Creek blockade on Vancouver Island

Five protesters arrested as RCMP begin to enforce injunction

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A thunderstorm pictured in Fraser Valley in 2021. (Black Press Media/Jaimie Grafstrom)
Wildfire concerns sparked after 320+ lightning strikes blasted B.C. yesterday

Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate risk of fire

A restaurant server on White Rock’s Marine Drive serves customers on a roadside patio. Indoor dining and recreational travel bans have been in effect since late March in B.C. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Names of those aboard the ship are seen at Komagata Maru monument in downtown Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The City of Vancouver has issued an apology for its racist role in denying entry to 376 passengers aboard a ship that was forced to return to India over a century ago. Mayor Kennedy Stewart says discrimination by the city had “cruel effects” on the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims aboard the Komagata Maru, which arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says sorry for city’s role in turning away South Asians in 1914

Kennedy Stewart has declared May 23 as the annual Komagata Maru Day of Remembrance

A crew of WestCoast WILD Adventures employees tackled an onslaught of litter left at the ‘Locks of Love’ fence at Wally Creek on May 2. (Anne-Marie Gosselin photo)
Litter woes consume popular ‘Locks of Love’ fence on B.C.’s Pacific Rim

Popular view spot near Tofino plagued by people hanging masks and other unwanted garbage

A game camera near the Klahoose reservation on Cortes Island caught this glimpse of a truck leaving the woodlot at around 2:30 on Sunday morning. Photo supplied by Klahoose First Nation
Indigenous cutblock vandalised on Cortes Island, anti-logging element suspected

Ribbons pulled down, gravel poured into gas tank at Klahoose First Nation site

Announced Tuesday, May 18 by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory. (AP/Steven Senne)
Masks now required at all times inside B.C. gyms, including during workouts

Those who disobey could be subject to a $230 fine

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Most Read