‘A slight chance of optimism, perhaps.’ - The Orca

‘A slight chance of optimism, perhaps.’

Maclean Kay

There’s no crystal ball, but it looks as though measures in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 are making a real difference in BC.

BC appears to be on course for a COVID-19 growth rate closer to that in South Korea, and not Northern Italy.

Today, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and provincial health officials unveiled detailed statistical modelling of several different outbreak scenarios for BC. In ascending order of virulence, these are based on the outbreaks in South Korea, Hubei (China), and Northern Italy.

In each scenario, BC appears to have enough hospital beds and ventilators – but should a Northern Italy-type outbreak happen here, it will get difficult, and require moving a significant percentage of non-COVID-19 patients to temporary care centres, such as recreation centres and arenas.

There are two main takeaways here.

First, the measures BC put in place less than two weeks ago, including travel bans and (particularly) social/physical distancing, appear to be making a significant difference. And that it’s crucially important that we need to keep it up.

“So much depends on each of us doing our part to keep this from growing explosively,” said Dr. Henry.

In the past week, the average daily increase of COVID-19 cases decreased from 24% more per day to 12%, driven by the effect of physical distancing measures and restriction on travel.

“I do believe we’ve seen a flattening, a falling off of that curve,” said Dr. Henry.

Even in the worst case, a Northern Italy-type scenario, Henry is “cautiously optimistic” BC can meet demand for both beds and ventilators.

BC’s rate of increase is slowly levelling off. The numbers of new COVID-19 cases in BC seems to put us on a slightly more serious track than South Korea, but not as bad as Hubei.

Should we stay on this track, the good news is the 17 primary COVID-19 care sites (essentially, BC’s largest hospitals) have sufficient capacity of beds and ventilators.

As Dr. Henry emphasizes, this is modelling; not a crystal ball. And that brings us to the second main takeaway: it’s absolutely imperative to keep it up.

The danger in receiving good news (well… relatively good news) is that people will relax. Have people over, meet up at the park, ease up on new borderline OCD handwashing habits – it can’t happen.

So for now – stay home. It’s working. We need it to keep working.

Maclean Kay is Editor-in-Chief of The Orca