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Some B.C. regions now have 10 times as many COVID-19 cases as they had at the end of December

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A new map showing cumulative COVID-19 cases in B.C. since the start of the pandemic highlights significant surges in infection rates in certain regions over the last month.

B.C. added more than 15,000 new cases of the coronavirus to its cumulative total during the month of January, and many of them were outside the typical hotspots in the Lower Mainland, according to the most recent map from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

The map shows the total number of cases confirmed in each of the province’s “local health areas” from January 1, 2020 through Jan. 31, 2021, as well as the number of cases recorded per 100,000 residents of each region during that period.

On the latest map, several regions look dramatically different from how they looked just one month ago, when the BCCDC published its map of cumulative cases through the end of December

Consider, for example, the Howe Sound local health area. As of Dec. 31, there had been 503 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region. By Jan. 31, that number had more than doubled to 1,111.

Most of the new cases in the region are connected to a cluster of cases in Whistler. On Friday, Health Minister Adrian Dix said 547 cases were added in the resort municipality between Jan. 1 and Feb. 2. 

“Almost all of the recent cases are associated with transmissions occurring within households and social settings, according to our contact tracing,” Dix said.

Howe Sound is not the only local health area that has seen its cumulative infection total double in the last month. Indeed, several regions have seen their totals grow by even greater multiples.

The Cariboo/Chilcotin local health area, which was also the site of a cluster of infections in January, recorded just 40 cases of COVID-19 in all of 2020. On the latest map, the region shows more than 10 times that many, with a cumulative total of 410. 

Total cases in the Bella Coola Valley have also grown tenfold over the last month, from just 8 as of Dec. 31 to 86 as of Jan. 31.

In B.C.’s north, cumulative caseloads have spiked from 17 to 127 in the Fort Nelson local health area (a sevenfold increase), from 47 to 132 in the Nisga’a area (a nearly threefold increase) and from 167 to 427 in Terrace (an increase of more than double).

Each of these regions – Howe Sound, Cariboo/Chilcotin, Bella Coola Valley, Fort Nelson, Nisga’a and Terrace – has now recorded a number of cases equivalent to more than 2,000 per 100,000 residents.

That puts them on par with several regions in the Lower Mainland that have been hit hard by the pandemic.

As of Jan. 31, the local health area that includes most of the City of Surrey had recorded 19,295 cases of COVID-19, or roughly 28 per cent of all cases of the disease in B.C. to that point.

That said, Surrey’s share of overall cases has dropped by several percentage points over the last month. As of Dec. 31, the city accounted for roughly a third of all of B.C.’s cases.

Other local health areas in Metro Vancouver that have recorded more than 2,000 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents include the City of Abbotsford, where 4,333 cases have been recorded overall, and the City of Delta, which had seen a total of 2,406 infections as of Jan. 31.

B.C.’s most-populous city, Vancouver, is divided into six different local health areas, only one of which – the one that includes most of the Downtown Eastside – has seen more than 2,000 cases per 100,000 residents.

Adding all of its local health areas together, the City of Vancouver has seen a total of 10,305 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. That works out to roughly 15 per cent of all infections in B.C. as of Jan. 31.

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