VANCOUVER -- A UBC expert says there is a possibility B.C. could return to lockdown conditions if COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise.

In the past week, the number of new cases has increased steadily. On July 10, provincial health officials announced 25 new cases, the biggest increase since early May.

  • Friday, July 10: 25 new cases
  • July 9: 20 new cases
  • July 8: 18 new cases
  • July 7: 12 new cases
  • July 6: 7 new cases
  • July 5: 15 new cases
  • July 4: 9 new cases

"I'm not losing sleep at this point over the increase in cases right now but it’s something that I think needs to be watched very carefully," said Dan Coombs, a UBC mathematics professor who studies epidemiology modelling and has previously worked with the province on its overdose response.

"We have to recognize that we’re in a very delicate position," he told CTV News Vancouver.

Coombs said it's difficult to say why B.C. is seeing this increase in positive case numbers. There have been no new outbreaks at long-term care homes, and cases appear to be affecting younger people while there are also more incidents of community infection. 

His biggest concern comes from the other side of the world, where Melbourne is entering a second lockdown. Stage 3 stay-at-home orders were announced for the Australian city on July 8 after the state of Victoria recorded 191 new cases in a few days.

Vancouver and Melbourne have shared a “broadly similar experience,” said Coombs, noting a pressing but unanswered question remains whether the cases will continue to rise or if these numbers will flatten.

He doesn't think B.C. is poised to return scale back its reopening or return to lockdown measures. "I don't think we’re near that point yet, but the events in Australia in Melbourne indicate that this could be a possibility if things do increase rapidly."

The next update from the provincial health officer is expected Tuesday, when B.C. will report on three days' worth of data.