The COVID-19 reproductive rate has risen above the troubling “one” mark in the Fraser Health region, the provincial health officer warned on Tuesday.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said that over the past week there have been, on average, more than one additional infection for each case of the virus in B.C.’s most populous health region — so the disease is spreading exponentially there.
This comes as most of the 91 school exposures reported on Monday and Tuesday were in the Fraser Health region.
“The fact that we’re seeing an increase in the reproductive number means that we’re not having those safe interactions as much as we need to be,” Henry said. “We need to reduce the transmission events that are happening in our community.”
She said 40 per cent of all school exposures are related to social gatherings outside of school.
“What we’ve started to see in the last week is the seven-day rolling average of numbers of cases has started to creep up, particularly in Fraser Health,” Henry said.
“We know that when we start to have transmission from multiple people to multiple people, it grows what we call exponentially. That means if I pass it on to two people, each of them passes it on to two people. Very quickly we get to four, we get to 16, we get to 256 within two generations.”
There were 1,533 cases of COVID-19 reported in B.C. over the past four days and 26 deaths. There are 4,189 active cases, of which 231 are in hospital including 74 in intensive care.
B.C. is the only Canadian province that does not provide daily COVID-19 updates during the weekend or over long weekends.
The George Derby Centre long-term care outbreak, where 33 residents have died, continues. Three health-care outbreaks were reported and three declared over. There are now 15 active outbreaks in long-term care home and six in acute care settings.
Henry said there were 8,773 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered from last Friday to Monday – an average of 2,193 a day.
Based on B.C. Centre for Disease Control data, the province has 16,745 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on hand as of Tuesday. The B.C. Ministry of Health has distributed 188,000 doses of vaccine and 171,755 have been injected.
B.C., and all Canadian provinces and territories, have experienced cuts in the promised vaccine supplies from Pfizer and Moderna since the last week of January.
Henry said that an expected vaccine delivery next week from Moderna would be less that earlier promised, but Moderna has promised increased supplies in April.
Pfizer is increasing supplies to its North American air-hub in Kentucky – which closed for a day on Monday due to extreme winter weather – after three weeks of smaller deliveries.
“I qualify everything because, as we know with a large global production like this, there’s always snags, whether it’s the weather, whether it’s the production facility, whether it’s access to the supplies that we need — the low dead space syringes, for example,” Henry said, adding there were more vaccines in the pipeline that would be easier to administer than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and they could be available within months.