Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Restaurants and bars in urban B.C. are a major source of new infections as B.C. deals with near-record spread of COVID-19, according to new data released Thursday by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Industrial sites in the Fraser Health region have also been key points of transmission, as well as indoor fitness and gyms, which are subject to the latest restrictions along with indoor dining and drinking.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is expected to extend those restrictions into May as the province targets available vaccine to workplace clusters and seeks to close individual businesses rather than whole sectors. Immunization is being used in food processing and retail that can’t be shut down, along with front-line health care where new infections are now relatively low due to vaccination.

Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix presented data from the two urban health regions with the majority of new cases. Fraser Health, with industrial and food processing as well as food service and retail, has had the most infections. Restaurants and bars are the largest source in Vancouver Coastal, reflecting less industrial and processing activity as well as a large outbreak that resulted in the closure of the Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort.

“We’ve seen ongoing high rates of transmission in Surrey,” as well as Windermere and Revelstoke in the Kootenays and the Dawson Creek area in northeastern B.C., Henry said.

Henry said the “dramatic increase” in infections in recent weeks has been mostly in people aged 19 to 39, through work as well as social gatherings, with an increase in the 40-to-59 age group as well. The pattern has shifted as more easily spread coronavirus variants have entered B.C.

“Before, if there were 10 people in a household, we might see transmission to two or three other people at most,” Henry said. “Now we’re seeing with the new variants in particular, that transmission can be widespread in households. It may be that all of the household becomes infected, and it’s the 40- or 50-year-old parent who ends up in hospital.”

RELATED: B.C.’s COVID-19 case count running higher, 1,205 Thursday

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@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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