Latest COVID-19 curve shows trajectory of cases in B.C.'s school-aged children
Cambridge Elementary School, which was ordered closed for two weeks by Fraser Health due to a COVID-19 outbreak, is seen in Surrey, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
VANCOUVER -- The latest COVID-19 modelling data suggests cases peaked in November, and the curve has turned downward since then.
Dr. Bonnie Henry walked the media through the data Wednesday afternoon, which included a figure she says the province is keeping a close eye on: the trajectory among school-aged children.
The decision to go back to school, and to keep kids in school following a series of exposures to the novel coronavirus, has been controversial among some parents and teachers.
"As we can see, those still represent a smaller portion of cases overall, and they follow the same trajectory that we have seen with everything else… but also we see that when we put in the restrictions that we put in in November, all age ranges came down," the provincial health officer said at a news conference.
As part of her presentation, Henry said children represent about 12 per cent of cases in B.C., and four outbreaks have been declared in schools since the start of the term in September.
About one in 100 kids have been tested, the data showed, and seven per cent of those tests have been positive.
Fewer than 0.7 per cent of students have been confirmed to have COVID-19.
The provincial data showed more than three quarters of the 526 schools in B.C. with exposures were elementary schools.
Health officials were quick to point out that about 70 per cent of B.C.'s 1,942 schools have not had any known exposures.
Henry has said previously these exposures mimic what's going on in the larger community. This means the majority of exposures at school have been in the two health regions – Vancouver Coastal and Fraser – with the majority of COVID-19 cases.
Last week, a CTV News Vancouver analysis suggested more than half of schools in those two regions have had at least one exposure. And that total may be higher, as not all exposures were publicly disclosed at the start of the school year.
Henry's presentation said fewer than 600 of the 120,000 school-aged children and staff who live or work in the Vancouver Coastal Health area had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and those diagnoses resulted in fewer than 200 exposures.
School-based transmissions were only noted with 20 exposures, and there were zero outbreaks in VCH schools.
The vast majority – nearly nine-in-10 – of cases acquired relating to the school system were generally through household contact, not from a confirmed case at school.
Slightly further east, there were exposure events at 384 of the schools in Fraser Health, which spans from Burnaby to Boston Bar.
More than one-third of those exposures were in Surrey, and just over a tenth had what the province called "potential in-school transmission events."