VANCOUVER -- B.C.’s new COVID-19 health orders limiting indoor gatherings are set to expire on Nov. 23. But SFU infectious disease modeller Caroline Colijn predicts they’ll have to be extended if the province wants to reduce case numbers and keep them down.

“The modelling shows if we really change our contact patterns enough and have a fairly dramatic change downwards, we will start to see cases decline in about a week. And then about a week after we reopen and reestablish whatever we were doing last week and the week before, the cases can just pick up again,” said Colijn.

“We are not going to solve COVID with two weeks advice not to socialize outside our households while keeping many workplace, bars, restaurants and other workplaces open. If it was that easy, everyone in the world would have done it.”

So she predicts the order will be extended, or B.C. could see rolling lockdowns to contain community spread.

“One of the things we have explored in modelling is periodically shutting down, so if you had a two-week, or even a one-week but very strong shutdown, so not keeping most things open, and you did that regularly that could actually keep cases at bay,” said Colijn.

She believes Christmas is a key consideration as the health authority considers extending the partial lockdown.

“I think given what has happened in all the past holidays since the summer, we can expect an uptick or major rise after Christmas,” she said.

So bringing case numbers down as low as possible before Dec. 25 is very important.

”Would it be better to think, OK, in December probably there would be a week when we don’t go out at all, we go back to what we are doing in March,” she said.

Ultimately it’s Dr. Bonnie Henry who will decide what happens next.