VANCOUVER -- The latest map of cumulative COVID-19 cases in B.C. since the start of the pandemic shows just a handful of regions that have been hit the hardest over time.

The new map shows the total number of cases recorded in each of B.C.'s "local health areas" between January 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021, as well as an approximate number of infections per 100,000 residents in each region.

It's this latter category that makes certain local health areas stand out on the map. There are only seven local health areas province-wide that had seen more than 4,000 cases per 100,000 residents as of April 30.

Those regions are:

  • Surrey
  • Abbotsford
  • Howe Sound
  • Prince Rupert
  • Nisga'a
  • Upper Skeena
  • Bella Coola Valley

While each of these local health areas has its own story of how it became one of the hotspots of B.C.'s pandemic, there are two broad themes that emerge.

Most of the hard-hit regions are either densely populated cities in the Lower Mainland (Surrey and Abbotsford) or small, remote, sparsely populated areas on the coast (Prince Rupert, Nisga'a, Upper Skeena and Bella Coola Valley).

Howe Sound doesn't quite fit in either of these categories, though dense, urban-style congregate living in Whistler has been described as a key factor in the spread of the virus there.

Of these seven hard-hit areas, Surrey has seen, by far, the largest number of cases overall. As of April 30, there had been 33,136 COVID-19 infections in the local health area that makes up most of the city.

The total represents roughly one-quarter of all coronavirus cases recorded in B.C. up to that point.

With 7,607 cases as of the end of April, the local health area that corresponds to the City of Abbotsford is the region with the next-highest total caseload.

Notably, the City of Burnaby had also seen more than 7,000 coronavirus cases as of April 30, recording a total of 7,317. However, Burnaby's larger population kept it out of the 4,000-cases-per-100,000 residents group. Burnaby's total caseload equates to between 2,000 and 3,000 cases per 100,000 residents.

The City of Vancouver is subdivided into six different local health areas, each of which had recorded between 2,000 and 5,000 cases as of last month. Combined, Vancouver's six regions add up to a total of 20,202 cases of COVID-19 in B.C.'s largest city since the pandemic began. None of Vancouver's local health areas have crossed the 4,000-cases-per-100,000-residents threshold, however.

Other hard-hit areas have much lower overall caseloads, but nevertheless have seen per-capita transmission comparable to Surrey and Abbotsford.

Howe Sound had recorded a total of 2,840 cases of COVID-19 as of April 30, while the other four regions with more than 4,000 cases per 100,000 residents had recorded less than 1,000 cases in total.

Prince Rupert had seen a total of 840 cases, Upper Skeena 199, Nisga'a 194 and the Bella Coola Valley 176.

Each of those totals still represents more than 4,000 coronavirus infections per 100,000 residents of a given region.

While total caseloads since January 2020 show which regions have had the highest rates of transmission over the course of the pandemic, they don't necessarily capture the current situation in each region.

In the latest map of weekly infection data, most of the hardest-hit areas on the cumulative map added only a handful of cases.

Prince Rupert and Upper Skeena each added a single case of COVID-19 to their totals during the week that ended May 1. Nisga'a and Bella Coola Valley didn't add any new cases over the period.

Howe Sound saw a comparatively high 39 new cases during the week, but that continues a downward trend that has been ongoing for the last several weeks. Howe Sound saw 50 cases the previous week, down from 131 the week before and 337 the week before that.

Of the hotspots on the cumulative map, only Surrey and Abbotsford were still seeing high rates of transmission as of the week of April 25 to May 1.

Surrey added 1,671 cases during the week in question, while Abbotsford added 498. Both of those totals equate to more than 20 cases per 100,000 residents per day, the highest rate of per-capita cases shown on the weekly map.