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COVID-19 cases likely peaked last weekend: B.C. officials

The latest wave of COVID-19 may be on a downward trajectory in British Columbia, health officials said Friday.

Dr Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix shared the latest modeling data at an early morning press conference, revealing they believe the local peak in infections was likely hit last weekend. Daily cases have recently reached record highs, largely due to the transmissibility of the Omicron variant.

Data on COVID-19 cases in the latest wave did not paint a full picture of the number of people infected with the disease as British Columbia struggled with its testing capacity. The most reliable PCR tests are reserved for people most at risk of developing serious illness, unvaccinated or working on the front lines. Rapid tests, however, are still difficult for most people to access.

As a result, officials said Friday that PCR testing — and therefore the number of reported cases — represents only a subset of the community, but is a high-risk subset with high positivity rates. Officials said those positive PCR results are declining, adding that the number of specific cases is not as important as the overall trajectory.

Officials have suggested that transmission is still likely three to four times the numbers reported daily.

“We’ve been at capacity on our PCR tests for several weeks now,” Henry said.

“But it gives us an idea because we monitor PCR testing over time, it reflects change and patterns over time.”

Additional data shared by health officials showed the Lower Mainland’s trajectory of cases is similar to that of other urban centers where Omicron has become dominant, with the latest surge lasting only a few weeks before beginning this upward trend. decrease.

“We can now say with some confidence that the trend is showing a sustained decline and that this trend mirrors what we are seeing in other jurisdictions,” Henry said.

That B.C. peaked in this wave so quickly isn’t a huge surprise, officials said, explaining that the Omicron variant showed both a shorter incubation period and longer disease duration. short.

COVID-19 cases likely peaked last weekend: B.C. officialsAnother way health officials have followed the local case trend is through sewage testing. Wastewater screening at five plants in Metro Vancouver shows that virus detection is trending down.

Throughout the pandemic, sewage has been used as an early warning signal for COVID-19 in a community and fills the gaps when testing is over capacity.

“When we look at sewage monitoring, it doesn’t depend on who gets tested,” Henry explained. “It’s really a barometer of the amount of virus in a community.”

Henry said surveillance suggests the virus peaked around the first week of January, which she said “is very similar” to PCR test data.

COVID-19 cases likely peaked last weekend: B.C. officialsModeling data released by BC health officials on January 14, 2022. But even with a drop in cases, the same cannot be said for hospitalizations.

“We’re still at the point where our hospitalization rate is going up,” Henry said. “New hospitalizations (are) still concerning.”

Officials explained that these rates tend to lag behind infections and it could be around a week or two before there is a decrease in these numbers.